On behalf of FHC, I would like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy new year. After what was an unprecedented and challenging 2020, I am sure most of us are very pleased to usher in this new year. It promises to be an exciting one for all of us, both here at home and on the international stage where our national teams will be gearing up for 2022 World Cup qualification and our men’s team —after a 12-month pandemic–induced delay— will finally get to step onto the Olympic stage once more when the Tokyo Olympic Games begin in July.
After last year’s system review engaged our community at all levels from coast–to–coast, we remain committed to our continued transformation in 2021. There is still much to do as we build on our recent changes to our internal High–Performance structure. With our HPD, Adam Janssen, guiding our system development and our team of podium coaches (Andrew Wilson, Patrick Tshutshani, Andre Henning and Pasha Gademan) focused on the on-field success, our HP team is already fully immersed in a busy 2021. In this Olympic year and with the opportunities of the new quadrennial now firmly on our horizon, the creation of safe home training environments and extended camp ‘bubbles’ will be an essential part of the new normal of international hockey—and let’s hope we see the quick resumption of international hockey as I am sure you, our fans and supporters, are missing it as much as the teams themselves.
In other areas, 2021 will see us continue to implement the findings of last year’s review. Many of these changes centre on making our sport more accessible, more inclusive and more diverse. One where the voices of everyone in our community are heard and needs are met. This sits high on our agenda for 2021 and straddles all elements of our strategic implementation. At the inaugural digital conference held in December, we heard how important this is to you. This goal of an accessible, inclusive and diverse system will influence changes in all areas. In 2021, Field Hockey Canada will ensure our continued progress towards this goal and we will continue to embrace the discomfort of change for a vision of safe sport, podium national teams and a sport for all.
In 2020 we signed an agreement with WVFHC and are delighted to have both our national teams accessing the fantastic training facilities in West Vancouver. In 2021, we will expand our roots across the country. Last year, we supported the international federations successful bid for para hockey IDs inclusion in the 2023 Special Olympics. We will now expand our horizons to the inclusion of a team for the Special Olympics. This will join our expanded roster of international hockey teams, as will our junior age group squads which will be extended down into the U18 and U16 age groups. With Masters level hockey continuing to grow in all age categories, I expect us to be extremely busy on the international scene—even if 2021 becomes a preparatory rather than a travel year for most. Amongst all this growth of international opportunities, there is a strong sense that our national teams belong to our community and we want you—our field hockey nation—joining all our national teams on their exciting journey to international success.
It would not be possible to achieve any of our strategic objectives without everyone in our community. My sincere thanks to our provinces, clubs, universities; our committees and the countless volunteers who make our community. You continue to be the heartbeat of our sport. Last year you stepped up to deliver the new protocols required for a safe return to sport: thank you. There is no doubt 2021 will continue to demand of our collective ability to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic and I am confident that together we will continue to find new ways and ensure our sport plays a part in supporting our mental and physical health while we navigate the pandemic.