In recent months, COVID-19 has challenged everyone in our community to re-think, adapt and change. For our national teams this meant a dramatic change from a busy calendar of international travel and competition in 2019 to an online training environment and the prospect of little-to-no international competition in the foreseeable future. The national men’s team adapted to the Olympics being postponed until 2021 and the women’s team felt immediate impact as they uprooted from their European clubs to return home.
Significant changes were also happening within Field Hockey Canada’s broader organizational structure where the Coronavirus-induced change in annual operating rhythm was used to drive bigger system change. A full system high performance review was one of the items at the top of this list. Extending from governance to pathways to the financial model, this review was originally planned as part of our work in 2020 during the reset from one Olympic cycle to the next. When the timelines changed in March due to the pandemic, the decision was made to push forward the timeline for this report and many other important pieces of work so FHC could optimize the positive outcomes during this unprecedented time.
“It is clear that changes are needed in all areas and across the whole system if we are to transform ourselves into a top-eight nation internationally and a top sport here in Canada,” Chief Executive Officer, Susan Ahrens said, in regard to the high performance system review.
The sport is changing, making it more challenging for Canada’s national teams to maintain and advance world ranking. The organization aspires to return to the heights achieved in the 1980’s when our women were second in the world. To do so, it was clear that change was needed and that any change had to be grounded in a full and comprehensive review. This review needed independence, objectivity and expertise that demanded we look outside our country to find. It needed to fully understand how the unique qualities of our current environment can be harnessed to create a unified, world class system. After an extensive process, FHC was delighted to engage the services of three-time gold medal winning coach Markus Weise to lead this review.
“Not only has Markus achieved unparalleled success in our sport but became an off-field expert in building world-leading talent development systems, having transferred to soccer and worked in building the talent development system with the German football federation,” Ahrens said.
As part of the HP review process, Weise interviewed over 90 people representing all areas of the Canadian field hockey community, from clubs, universities, provinces, HP partners, alumni and athletes. Ahrens said it is imperative to get a full picture when evaluating a system of such magnitude. She said, “this report and its findings will be the strong, evidence-based foundation to build what Markus referred to Field Hockey Canada’s ‘Team of Teams.’”
Field Hockey Canada will be sharing the report in its entirety with all stakeholders in the coming week, with implementation steps immediate. Starting with the appointment of a High Performance Director to lead high performance, system transformation will drive towards the goal of achieving Olympic podium success in Los Angeles 2028. Field Hockey Canada and our national team players are ambitious and we understand the need for a long-term approach towards lasting change and consistent world level success.
The work starts now with appointment of key positions and personnel. This will coincide with the imminent return to the field of play and will be a welcomed re-set for all involved. Field Hockey Canada deeply appreciates the community support through this time and would like to give special thanks to Own the Podium, the provincial sport organization members and the private donor who financially supported this review.