We speak to Greg Mill, president of World Beach Hockey Ltd, after the format was recognised recently by the International Hockey Federation (FIH)
What was the idea behind beach hockey formation and why?
In 2014 I was coaching hockey in the UK. My wife and I went to The Hague to see the World Cup and were lucky enough also to have the opportunity to see the inaugural world beach hockey festival.
As we have amazing beaches in Australia, we were motivated to introduce beach hockey to my local community in Far North Queensland. When we returned home we ran Come and Try sessions in my home town of Port Douglas and, following positive response, we then purchased two inflatable beach hockey pitches and other equipment to run successful annual tournaments with adults and juniors over a four year period.
Towards the end of 2022 we decided to look at launching beach hockey around Australia. At the same time I contacted a number of countries around the world who were holding beach hockey events but, as there was no international co-ordination or structure, this sport was not really developing to its potential.
The countries I contacted showed enthusiasm to be part of an organizational structure so the planning began. Around this time we also made our first contact with the Federation of International Hockey.
What are the aims of the federation?
We are a registered Non For Profit business entity as World Beach Hockey Ltd, so we are not an international Federation.
Our aims are: To introduce this new version of hockey to all countries around the world. To develop beach hockey infrastructure including beach, indoor and stand alone sand courts.
To encourage hockey participation to those who have not been exposed to field or indoor hockey. To run FIH sanctioned events around the world. To make beach hockey an affordable and fun way to improve physical and mental health.
What successes have you seen so far since launch?
It is early days for us as we have been focussed on establishing our global structure plus applying for recognition by FIH. Both of these have been achieved so we are excited that 2024 will be our launch year. We are gratified that there is growing support for beach hockey and, to date, we have confirmation that 50 countries have requested to join World Beach Hockey. We expect to double this number of countries by the end of 2024.
Can it tie in with the game on astro?
From our experience here in Australia many adults and children who had never picked up a stick before tried beach hockey then were motivated to participate in local club eleven a side and club indoor hockey.
Will there be a beach hockey World Cup?
Yes, we are looking to run future World Cups for youth, adults and masters. Our longer term goal is to be invited to be a participant sport in future ANOC world beach games run by the Association of National Olympic Committees.
What is the future now the FIH has recognised beach hockey?
We are excited to be recognised by FIH and appreciate their confidence in allowing us to manage the running of all future international beach hockey events. We look forward to working closely with them and are excited to be able to draw on their expertise and resources in the planning and management of major events.
Being a recognised organisation also opens up many doors within the FIH Continental and National Hockey Associations structure. We recognise that a strong working partnership with all FIH principal partners is a vital component to our success.
The beach is a wonderful place to play hockey, you have the sun, the sea and the sand. We hope to make beach hockey the most exciting beach sport in the world!
For more information check out www.worldbeachhockey.org also contact on email@example.com