August 15, 2017

With the 2017/18 season almost upon us, the EIHA Junior League Management Committee (JLMC) is announcing plans for the expansion of Stage 1 Development Programme and Conference Programme for players in the u11 age group.

The Stage 1+ will be targeting EIHA and for the first time Scottish Ice Hockey players registered as u11 for this season to receive additional development opportunities described as being at ‘Conference level and beyond.’

We believe this is one of the most significant steps forward in player development terms in recent times and we hope to see the programme flourish.  Stage 1+ will commence in August 2017 and will be reviewed in May 2018, which could lead to a roll-out at u13 and u15 for the 18/19 season.

The plan is based on two key elements:

  1. provision of increased level of highly intensive and competitive games with greater frequency in complete accordance with the England National Team Programme (ENTP) player development strategy, and
  2. identification and selection of players to a high performance elite programme run nationally.

One of the main changes to the u11 teams for the coming season will be the alignment of the Conference with ENTP team where the team strength will be extended to twenty players and three reserves making a total squad of 23 players.

Following a series of meetings between IHUK, EIHA and SIH the establishment of the new u11 initiative appears to be providing a great first step in our commitment to focus on long term athlete development and will allow our younger talented athletes to work together over the course of the season rather than just meeting once a year in May.

As a result the three governing bodies have taken the decision to delay implementation of the Great Britain u12 and u14 development squads.  The JLMC, having been involved in drafting the overall plan for u11s, has looked closely at the work being done by England and other development initiatives such as Power of Ten which are already seen to be working well together.

The JLMC has undertaken a considerable amount of work over the past eight months and although full details are not ready for publication, JLMC Chair Jacqueline Pye is keen to make this first announcement so the u11 players for 2017/18 have an idea of what lies ahead for them.

“This initiative is part of a wider plan to implement a long term athlete development pathway throughout the whole of the UK,” she said.

“It’s a great example of our joint desire to work towards one unified National governing body.  The EIHA’s JLMC and England programme have been engaged with IHUK and SIH since January and in that time we discussed and agreed in principle a new way forward for the development of both Conference and England teams as part of IHUK’s vision for closer collaboration with the elite player pathway.

“I am really excited at the opportunities that this presents for our youngest players and I hope this will be the next major step for our sport.”

The JLMC will publish more details of the Stage 1+ plan in the coming weeks along with details of the Conference Tournament dates for the new events in November 2017, January 2018 and March 2018.