After working together for a number of years, The Hockey Players’ Association has formalised a new agreement with Hockey New Zealand, on behalf of the athletes it represents.
This agreement, in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MOU), firms up the foundation for the future growth and commercial development of the sport.
The MOU outlines the agreement for national squad athletes and Hockey New Zealand on matters relating to selection, training, competition, conduct, and fulfillment of commercial and promotion obligations, along with clarity on the ownership of and access to individual and team property.
“The MOU is a significant marker for the maturity of the sport and where we all want to head. The players believed there was a great opportunity to provide a foundation document that would allow Hockey New Zealand and the players to grow the sport together. We saw the benefits of a partnership model in this respect and formalising it now sets a very positive environment to do well internationally,” says Dion Gosling, executive manager of the Hockey Players’ Association and past Black Stick.
The financial sustainability of athletes who make huge sacrifices to participate in elite hockey which is largely still amateur, was a key consideration in the formation of the MOU. The MOU provides the framework for athletes so they can fulfill the obligations of being in a highly competitive national programme, and meet their individual commitments.
“We are committed to building a world-class high performance programme and we see this as a significant step forward and a real opportunity for both the players and the sport. The MOU provides both parties with a framework to work within and outlines our respective obligations and commitments,” says Hockey New Zealand chief executive Hilary Poole.
With the national squads having up to 50 athletes, it is important that athletes have a collective voice, and the Hockey Players’ Association provide this, along with other support and guidance for its members. Each athlete selected into the national squads will be contracted as an independent contractor to Hockey New Zealand, on terms that relates to the MOU.
“It is fantastic that players and Hockey New Zealand are working together to keep the game moving forward. The MOU means we know what is required of us in terms of the programme, competition schedule as well as off-field activities, such as promotion. It will be better for hockey, and the players,” says Black Sticks vice captain Dean Couzins.
Hockey New Zealand aims for the national teams to medal at major international events on the world stage; that hockey can build a successful and sustainable commercial model; and that players and Hockey New Zealand can mutually benefit from the growth and development of hockey.
“If we are to consistently rank in the top six then we need to have athletes truly committed to Hockey New Zealand’s high performance programme. This MOU clearly states what we expect from athletes, and what they require from us,” says Black Sticks Women’s coach Mark Hager.
Poole notes that this is new territory for all parties and that the close working relationship that exists between the Hockey Players’ Association and Hockey New Zealand will help address any matters as they arise.