Today (2013-11-09) it’s exactly 1000 days until the opening of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games…

This might seem still a long way away but we all know in every day life, time goes fast and faster. Even more than in regular life topsport requires planning ahead. This is so for players with ambitions, for teams, for clubs, for federations, for all concerned. The classic “Demming circle” of “Plan, Do, Chect, Act”  is something I picked up at work, but can (and should) be applied to almost every aspect of life and most certainly (top)sport.

Those aiming to be a contender for the Games in Rio better already have a plan and be turning the Demming circle around and around… improving themselves. A 1000 days will go by very quickly!

In this light it was good to see the world governing body for our sport (FIH) publish their main international events for the next 4 years ahead of us – click here to see their announcement and planning. And watch the video announcing the next World Cup below:

In the beginning of this year I wrote an open letter to the FIH & EHF (click here to read it) regarding our frustrations about the lack of this planning ahead in our sport and proposed my ideal calendar to them. I’m happy to say I see a lot of this concept returning in the calendar proposed by the FIH today. Not everything of course has been planned to my ideal version and they only planned ahead for 4 years where I would have done this for 6 to 8 years, but still… It’s a good step, if not a major step into the right direction!

Some other issues still on the table according to me would be :

  • The major issue I still have seeing their 2015-2018-cycle is it doesn’t (yet) show the planning of the continental federations included. When will the continental championships be scheduled? Because they too have an impact on the calendar of all concerned.
  • When & where will the World League Rounds 1 & 2 be planned. Less important maybe for the major countries, but also those countries in the sub-top or aiming for the sub-top require planning ahead.
  • Why is there still a separate Champions Trophy on the calendar? I think most (if not all) players and coaches concerned would agree it’s one tournament too much on the calendar. The brand is great, so let’s keep that but let’s call World League 4 (the final round) the Champions Trophy and we’re all happy…
  • Other issues that will certainly arise have less to do with when but more with where these events will be played. I think all will understand the special position India holds in our world. I think we will all benefit from a strong(er) India, fully committed in the hockey community but the share they got from the top events to be organised is somewhat disproportional to say the least. Something to be discussed I’m sure…

But we’ve made some steps into the right direction with regards to planning! And I’m happy to see this. We all know “Rome was not build in one day” so I am sure the process of do, check and act (=adapt) following this planning will help improve the issues I still see in the future.
Therefore I’m looking forward to the 2015-2018 planning of the continental federations within the framework of the FIH and I challenge the national federations as well to question their existing competitions! I think if our European national competitions remain as is, at least we should consider playing with less teams (max 10) in the top division. But why not dare to rethink our competitions totally? From time to time it’s healthy to think outside the box. Yes, I do believe continuity is a good thing so maybe we don’t need to change it at all. But keeping things the way they are, just because it has always been like that is a sure way to become stale and obsolote. That is not what sports is about…

So let’s celebrate hockey and not be afraid to challenge it as well sometimes!