The Chair of the Junior League Management Committee (JLMC), Jacqueline Pye, has today announced another brand new initiative adding to the Stage 1 Development Programme that she introduced in August 2015. She has said today: “I am delighted to announce a new extension to the U11 programme which is targeting our most talented 10 year old’s and I think this new initiative is going to provide a really exciting run-up to Christmas for a number of our brightest stars of the future.”

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The plan is very simple: identify the forty-four best prospects from the 2016 ten year old players (players born in 2006) and invite them to a “track day” where they can bring their hockey kit and take part in a full-day hockey specific training camp that is a mirror image of the current England Under 13 selection camp. The idea being that these forty-four players who are seen with the potential to be England and GB players of the future will be given a “taste” of the EIHA’s elite player programme in advance of the selection process which will begin for them in 2017/18 either as part of the current England National Team programme, or as part of a unified Ice Hockey UK programme which is currently being formulated between the EIHA and IHUK.

Jacqueline added: “We all know about the current review in to the future GB programme for U12 and U14 players. I am keen to learn about IHUK’s plans as they become known but for now we have to continue to build EIHA programmes that meet the needs of our current players so that we can provide the very best opportunities and experiences as they pass along our player pathway.”

This new initiative takes a cue from the Power of 10 programme that was introduced by British Athletics in 2006. The Power of 10 mission has inspired, motivated and improved standards of performance since its inception and has successfully instilled a real sense of purpose and value that has witnessed greater depth and higher standards in targeted athletics events across all age groups.

Jacqueline hopes to emulate some of that success in our junior ice hockey players and to help implement the new initiative she has turned to England leadership pair of Head Coach, Ben Pitchley, and GM, Gary Apsley to oversee the new Power of 10 programme and who are already delivering significant improvements in the development of the England National Team Programme (ENTP) since it was re-launched at the beginning of the year.

Ben said: “I like the idea’s behind inspiring and motivating younger players as the future success of our game at the GB senior level depends entirely on new players coming in at the beginning of the pathway and working as hard as they can along the way to hopefully gain selection to the GB senior squad.”

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He went on: “This new initiative will provide an additional link in the current Club-Conference-England-GB pathway that we are working hard to strengthen for the benefit of our players and our National game. I think this will be another big step for us all to take in support of our talent development.”

Over the next ten days Ben will be inviting the Head Coaches of the four Conference U11 teams to nominate their players born in 2006 who will then be considered for invitation to this very special event that will be held on Thursday 22nd December.

The event will be held at Ice Sheffield and the English Institute of Sport and will be a full day of testing, assessment and evaluation of all of the core skills that are currently being implemented and developed by the England National Team Programme. There will be a mix of on- and off-ice activities along with classroom sessions which have all been designed as part of the wider elite player development model which is being used across all of the current England National Teams.

Talking about the day, England GM, Gary Apsley said: “We will be hosting a full day’s event which will start around 7am and finish around 7pm. There will be rest breaks throughout the day but the players who will be invited are in for a real treat. This will be nothing like they have experienced before and we hope it will inspire and motivate them to take their hockey to a completely different level.”

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The JLMC hope that the event will also be an opportunity for the JLMC and the England National Team Programme to provide a link between Club, Conference and England below the current entry level to England which is U13. Jacqueline and the JLMC are very keen to see development across the entire junior pathway and initiatives like Power of 10 are designed to raise awareness of the pathway and provide the opportunities for all participants which includes parents, players, coaches, managers and officials.

Jacqueline said: “I am determined to get all aspects of the Junior Section joined-up together so that everyone can see how their involvement in ice hockey can be progressed so that they get the maximum from what we do. Programmes like this can help demonstrate the relationships between Club, Conference and England and hopefully take away some of the myths and misconceptions that people have about not just Conference or England, but also the JLMC and wider EIHA. I see this sort of programme as an essential element of the change that ice hockey needs to make in order to get more from what we have and what we do with what we have.”

Based loosely on the current ENTP U13 model, the new Power of 10 event will provide the players with on- and off-ice tuition and assessment and will use the latest techniques for evaluation as well as using video and performance technology. The ENTP has invested £5,000 this year in hi-tech equipment which will be utilized by the coaching staff during the Power of 10 event.

Ben Pitchley described the process: “We currently monitor all of our England prospect players throughout the day. We test their fitness levels, we evaluate their on-ice performance in drills and in competitive games and we even monitor their hydration and fuel intake. We take everything really seriously as we consider our job to be primarily the preparatory step in to a Great Britain team which currently starts at the U16 level.”

Gary Apsley added: “We recently expanded the staffing levels of the ENTP and we have offered to bring some of the England Team staff to work alongside the Conference U11 team staff with this exciting new programme. The players can expect to be involved in the most demanding of events in terms of their application and ability. But we know that players need to be pushed and we know just how to push them toward achieving their dreams.”

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Ice Sheffield are co-hosting the event and the cost of the ice is being met by the EIHA. The players will receive, breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks and drinks throughout the day. A specially prepared menu has been developed for the England programme and this will be provided to the U11 participants. The timetable is packed with activities although Ben Pitchley has made sure that this age group will have time to rest and re-charge their batteries.

All ENTP events are ‘Open’ events and so parents will be able to watch and there may well be an opportunity for parents to get involved in some of the off-ice activities and lectures. There are plans for a special lecture for parents which will explain some of the issues to be faced by players and parents as they pass along the ENTP and GB pathways.

Selection of the players to be invited to The Power of 10 event starts with player nominations from the current U11 Head Coaches of the four Conference Teams. All ten year old players who have attended Conference trials this season will be considered for nomination. The Head Coach will submit his/her nominations to England Head Coach who will then make the final selection and invites will be sent by email.

Although heavily subsidised there is a cost to participants for this event which needs to be self-funded and with the event being overseen by the ENTP Staff the England camp rate of £100 per player has been agreed by the JLMC Chair.

Gary explained the costs: “The cost for hosting the day is substantial and we appreciate fully the impact on families, especially at Christmas. But typically these events cost around £10,000 per day to put on and with only 44 places available it is a real challenge to keep costs at an affordable level.”

JLMC Chair Jacqueline Pye said in closing: “I took a big step last season and during the summer with setting-up the U11 events at Sheffield, Swindon and Sutton. They were all successful and I saw first hand just how seriously those players who took part in those events take their ice hockey.

“I think this new programme will definitely inspire, motivate and improve our youngest players who are already on the JLMC’s elite pathway from Club and Conference and this initiative will hopefully give some of these players an experience of what the future could hold for them as they continue to grow in confidence and develop their hockey skills to become GB stars of the future.”

Invitations for the Power of 10 event will be sent to players by email.

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