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Search on for coach to revitalise sport

The Bermuda Hockey Federation are aiming to revitalise the sport with the appointment of a new Head Coach and Development Officer.

Having endured dwindling numbers within its members for a number of years, the federation are aiming to restructure their coaching hierarchy in the hope of growing the sport’s popularity back to its past levels.

“The primary for us is growth primarily,” said Keith De Silva, the federation’s president. “In the last year we have seen a drop-off in member numbers of around 20 per cent.

“It doesn’t sound like a huge number, but when you go from 120 to 100 members in a short space of time, it’s very noticeable and concerning from our point of view.

“Field hockey used to be played in all of the schools on island, people knew about the sport far more than nowadays, now we’re struggling.

“We need to revitalise the sport. The plan is to grow our base at the youngest level in the hope that will follow a pathway through to play as adults.

“We have a good base of about 60 children that play every weekend, but unfortunately there is a disconnect between the youth players and senior hockey. Ideally, we’d love someone to come in with the know-how of how to bridge those gaps with a development programme.

“The children we do have playing now love the sport, the aim for us now is to engage even more with the younger generations and rebuild our base of players.”

De Silva highlighted the work of the Bermuda Rugby Football Federation and in particular the endeavours of the Beyond Rugby programme, which aims to help children with behavioural issues and give them options in life including graduation through the school system.

Although the Bermuda Hockey Federation are not looking to follow that exact pathway, De Silva revealed his admiration for the work being done by the BRFU and the blueprint they have put in place for future success.

“To grow and be successful we need to first get into the schools a lot more and work with the younger generations,” De Silva added.

“You can see what the BRFU and the Beyond Rugby Programme have done with young children and giving them a clear pathway from the youth level right the way through to the senior level.

“I wouldn’t say we are aiming to copy that exact idea but it is a great model and blueprint of how to engage the younger generations and instil them not only with the skill set but also sportsmanship and camaraderie.

“Ideally, I’d love to bring someone in with the skill set to take players from grass roots right through to international level, that’s always the ideal situation.”

Having always been run by volunteers in the past, De Silva admitted the time had come to appoint someone to spearhead the federation on a full-time basis.

While having the ambition of handing the reins to a locally qualified coach, he admitted that with no local applicants with the relevant qualifications to date, the search had been extended further ashore, with the aim of recruiting the strongest possible applicant.

“We’ve had no local applicants at the required level so far and, in all honesty, for what we need it will be difficult to find that locally. Ideally, we’d want to recruit locally, but I think for the level we need it will need to be an overseas applicant.

“We’ve always been run by volunteers and they’ve always done an incredible job, but for us to reach the heights that we want it now has to be a full-time role.

“We’ll be aiming to appoint the best qualified applicant who has all the skills to really take this sport back to where it should be.”