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Masters Hockey – a Blueprint for the Future
Masters Hockey can play an important role in future wellbeing of the game through encouraging older players to continue playing and therefore being active members of their clubs and, in many cases, other hockey organisations.
By providing enjoyment in hockey for players over 40 years of age, Masters hockey is retaining in the game a pool of men and women who can bring a number of benefits to the game
- By playing themselves and demonstrating the enjoyment of the game they will inspire their own children and grandchildren to take up the sport.
- In due course they may have more available time to take on management roles within their clubs.
- They may have reached positions in work or in society to be able to help the club through influential contacts – in business, in local government or in the wider hockey network.
- In the fullness of time they may themselves become the benefactors/sponsors that every club needs.
Objectives of Masters hockey
The main objective of Masters hockey is to provide a framework in which players over 40 years old can continue to play competitive hockey against players of the same age, so combining the pleasure of playing a team sport with the enjoyment of socialising with opponents who are their contemporaries, many of whom may have become good friends in hockey over a longer period of time.
How to Achieve This
National Governing Bodies need to recognise the benefits to the game of encouraging Masters hockey. In close collaboration with their member clubs they need to develop a structure of age-group leagues within their countries.
They should also liaise with any existing Veterans/Masters hockey organisers or touring clubs to benefit from as much experience as may be available to them.
To support these leagues clubs need to develop an understanding within their membership that at a certain point in their playing career members graduate into age-group hockey. In most cases players began in colts and junior age groups and then moved into ‘open’ hockey in their 20s and 30s so it should be accepted as a natural progression that players move back into age group hockey as the bloom begins to fade.
The natural consequence of this is that clubs have three important divisions – colts/juniors (approx. age 7-17), senior teams (18-39) and masters (40 -70+). A degree of flexibility is needed as some 17 year-olds may well be good enough to play in senior teams and some over 40 may still have a role to play in bring on the younger players in the senior sides. However a basic acceptance of this structure would ensure the hockey club as a base for three generations of players and create a family sports club.
Representative and International Masters
With a Masters league structure in place, representative regional and international teams are a natural progression. NGBs should be encouraged to develop their own national squads at all age levels and to enter the tournaments organised by IMHA and WGMA, the two associations recognised by FIH as being responsible for the international hockey for Masters and Grand Masters.
As a first step NGBs should be encouraged to build relationships with the regional representatives of both WGMA and IMHA who are charged with the development of Masters hockey in their regions and who can stimulate early competition at Masters levels between neighbouring countries.
As soon as they have been able to establish national teams for Masters hockey NGBs should be encouraged to become members of both WGMA and IMHA and to appoint delegates who can contribute to the management of international masters hockey and help to shape the future.
Hon Secretary, WGMA