On November 20, as the world comes together to celebrate World Children’s Day, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) is adding to the festivities with the launch of the ‘Start Hockey Challenge.’ Aligned with UNICEF’s annual day of action for children, this initiative aims to encourage and facilitate children worldwide in playing hockey, fostering a healthier and more active lifestyle.
The Origin of ‘Start Hockey’:
The ‘Start Hockey Challenge’ builds upon the success of the ‘Start Hockey Programme,’ introduced on World Children’s Day in 2022. This program was designed for communities, clubs, schools, and individuals to support the initiation and fundamental development of hockey skills, especially among those with limited or no prior knowledge of the sport. It was launched as part of the FIH’s strategy to expand the global reach of the game, in collaboration with member nations and Continental Federations, and is overseen by the FIH Academy.
Evolution into the ‘Start Hockey Challenge’:
Inspired by the positive response to the ‘Start Hockey’ program and motivated by the numerous stories of young players embracing the sport, the FIH Academy is launching the ‘Start Hockey Challenge’ with the goal of providing additional encouragement to the 30 million+ hockey players worldwide, particularly the youth.
About the ‘Start Hockey Challenge’:
The ‘Start Hockey Challenge’ comprises five activities, each focusing on fundamental “with the ball” actions in hockey: Dribbling, Passing, Shooting, Eliminating, and Receiving. The challenge is not only designed to make hockey drills accessible to everyone but also aims to give athletes an opportunity to enhance their skills and share their experiences with the world.
The challenge offers three levels of difficulty for each activity, ensuring that participants of all skill levels can find enjoyment in the activities. It is inclusive and can be embraced by players from diverse backgrounds, whether they seek a lighthearted experience, friendly competition, or a means to enhance different aspects of their game.
The Beauty of Simplicity:
The essence of the ‘Start Hockey Challenge’ lies in its simplicity. Players can set up and complete the challenges individually, with minimal equipment. Schools, clubs, and academies can also organize the challenge on a larger scale as a group activity. It emphasizes the joy of playing and encourages creativity with the available equipment, rather than relying on elaborate setups.
Participants have the option to record a video of themselves undertaking the challenge, upload the video, receive scores, and claim a badge. This adds an extra layer of fun and motivation to the challenge.
A Message from FIH President Tayyab Ikram:
On World Children’s Day 2023, FIH President Tayyab Ikram expressed his pride in the fact that over 75% of registered hockey players globally are aged under 18. He highlighted FIH’s commitment to contributing to the well-being of children and youth worldwide, ensuring that individuals from all communities and backgrounds can embrace sports and access regular sporting activities. Ikram emphasized the importance of sports in the personal and social development of today’s younger generations, expressing FIH’s dedication to providing facilities and services that facilitate effective pathways into sports, bringing about valuable qualities like resilience, a strong work ethic, teamwork, and leadership skills.
The ‘Start Hockey Challenge’ is not just an initiative; it’s a celebration of the universal joy of playing hockey. It embodies the spirit of inclusivity, simplicity, and the transformative power of sports in the lives of young individuals. As the world unites to celebrate World Children’s Day, the FIH’s commitment to nurturing the next generation through sports shines brightly through the ‘Start Hockey Challenge.’ So, lace up those hockey shoes and take up the challenge today!