29th June 2015


At the recent Annual General meeting, EIHA Director for the Team England Programme, Paul Hayes, presented his forward look ahead for the forthcoming season, 2015/16 which was presented following the announcement by Ice Hockey UK to extend their Elite Player Pathway to include new Great Britain U16 teams for boys and girls. In recognising the challenges facing the Association’s junior programmes and in taking account of the recently published EIHA Sport Development Plan, Mr. Hayes gave his statement of intent which was accepted by those members of the Association who were present at the AGM.

There are four main tasks identified through a review of the current programme that are to be implemented over the coming weeks and months which will deliver significant improvements to the National team programme. The tasks are:

  • Re-engineered player selection process for all England teams
  • The appointment of a new Head Coach of the Team England Programme
  • Establishment of new ‘A’ Teams at each age group
  • Staff recruitment campaign to include new roles for succession planning.

Making a statement today Mr. Hayes said:

“We have looked closely at what we are achieving with the National team programmes and we believe the time is right to re-structure the programme to meet the needs and wants of the wider-sport and not just the EIHA” He went on to say. “I would like to see more players coming through the Conference programme in to the National team programmes leading all the way through to Ice Hockey UK’s Elite Player Pathways at Great Britain U16, U18 and U20.”

The first part of the re-structure is the announcement concerning the Team England U13 programme for 2015/16 along with the appointment of a new coaching team being led for the first time by Chris Salem (Billingham) who will be assisted by Natalie Aldridge (Basingstoke) and Shane Smith (Steeldogs). Mr. Salem and his assistants have a simple initial brief – to ensure that more eligible players gain access to the U13 programme than in previous years and deliver better value for money from the investment the EIHA is making. This means that previous ‘Quest for Quebec’ programme will be replaced with a more appropriate and affordable series of events that will see the England U13 team compete in more full length games against accomplished opposition in mainland Europe.

Mr. Hayes believes that this change in approach to the entry level of the National team programme will produce better preparation for development and progression for more players and is part of a longer term aspiration to ensure that more players move onto Ice Hockey UK’s elite pathway which itself has been expanded. This is expected to be welcomed by the EIHA’s junior Club’s who have expressed a desire to see more joined-up thinking that will bring about improvements to the playing programmes and in turn help Club’s themselves to develop by having more of their coaches gaining valuable experience with both Conference and Team England.

The EIHA would like to extend a huge vote of thanks to the former Team England U13 staff members, Ben Pitchley, Mitch Stead and Rory Gavin who have all served the Association with great

dedication over the past few years and delivered fantastic experiences to a great many of our young hockey players. Their contribution to the sport can not be under stated.

With the England selection camps taking place at Ice Sheffield in early August, it is a busy time for the Team England staff and Mr. Hayes is expecting to make further announcements concerning exciting new developments to the Team England Programme over the coming days.

Board of Directors
English Ice Hockey Association