During the 31st European Hockey Federation General Assembly on Friday, August 16, Leonardas Čaikauskas and Sally Munday were honoured for their contributions to European hockey.

Recently retired Executive Board Member Leonardas Čaikauskas was appointed as a Member of Honour.

Čaikauskas has been involved in hockey for 34 years and has previously served as the Secretary-General of the Lithuanian Hockey Federation. He is currently president of the Lithuania Hockey Federation and recently stepped down from the Executive Board of European Hockey, having served on it for the last 16 years.

Lithuanian Hockey has experienced much growth under the leadership Čaikauskas. During his time with the federation, he has managed to have two hockey stadiums built, hosted numerous EHF competitions, and hosted the General Assembly in 2005. He also serves as a member of the Lithuanian Olympic Committee and will soon begin advising the Minister of Sport.

Over his career, he has played an instrumental role in the growth of hockey in European nations. In 1990, Čaikauskas began working with then EHF Secretary-General, David Balbirnie, on increasing possibilities for Lithuania and other former Soviet nations in hockey. He has been an ardent advocate for increasing opportunities in many Eastern European nations including Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia, and Romania. While addressing those at the General Assembly, Fleuren said he has been “a bridge between east and west and you are still the one who is that bridge”.

When asked to say a few words on his contribution to European Hockey, Čaikauskas kept all the attention on growing the sport in smaller nations and thanking those who have helped him along the way: “thank you for sharing your hockey knowledge. I hope we [in smaller hockey nations] all have people like you so that the hockey community will grow and dreams will become reality”.

Sally Munday has been working for hockey since 1998, first as a regional development manager before becoming the Development Director in 2003 when England Hockey became the National Governing Body. In 2009, she became the CEO. Under Munday’s leadership, England Hockey’s quality of play and membership has soared.

In 2012, the women won a bronze medal in front of their home crowd at the 2012 Olympic Games. After which, the number of young girls playing hockey in England doubled. There has also been 80% more boys and girls in clubs across the nation. The increase in popularity coincided with improved results and in 2016, the Great Britain Women’s team won the gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games.

England Hockey has also seen improved facilities and has been a leader in innovation with Munday recently debuting a portable pitch, a more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to more traditional options.

On Munday’s work, EHF President, Marijke Fleuren said: “you are described by your people as an inspirational and the things you are doing are game-changers”.

Sally’s work in hockey has not gone unnoticed as she will soon be transitioning into a new role as CEO of UK Sport. The EHF appreciates the work that she has done on behalf of hockey and she will be missed.

Congratulations and thanks to both of our honorees.

Photographs: Leonardas Čaikauskas with Marijke Fleuren and Sally Munday with Marijke Fleuren – World Sport Pics (c)