July 14, 2017

With just a little over two weeks to go before the Girls Hockey Development Day at Ice Sheffield, Ben Pitchley has today confirmed that England U13 Head Coach, Mark Saunders, will be leading the coaching on the ‘This Girl Can’ event on Saturday 29th July 2017.

“I want our programmes to be joined together,” said Pitchley “and Mark knows all about the U13 age group so he will be the best man for the job to kick-start this initiative in to being which I am hoping will then feed-in to the current England U15 girls programme being run by Tim Healand and Paul Burton.”

19894697_748351048679812_753491119751873258_nThe ‘This Girl Can’ idea has been bubbling around the EIHA for the past couple of seasons and while there has been some interest from the junior female players, the take-up at the events has not been as significant as the organisers hoped.

Women’s Section lead, Geoff Hemmerman explains: “I have been around women and girls hockey for years, my own daughter played many years ago and I have maintained a keen interest since. I know that we have worked really hard to develop the girls game, especially at the younger age groups but we seem to struggle to break through to a more significant number of the girls who are registered players.”

There are currently almost 150 girls registered in the EIHA who are aged 12 and under so the idea of hosting an event specifically for these players seems to be a good idea, but there does not seem to be as much interest as was hoped for.

Mr Hemmerman added: “We are keen to develop a talent pool below the level of the current England U15 girls and using the current JLMC development programme models we hoped for a better response. It’s going to be really tough to sustain the new development plan if we do not attract more interest and that’s the focus for our efforts right now.”

The event at Sheffield on 29th July was intended to be a whole day event with three groups of girls all going through the same type of activities and being able to play in a challenge game at the end of the day. Having being given the job of arranging the day Coach Mark Saunders has a tougher job than first expected because of the range and level of skills and experience across the players.

Saunders said: “Our development model is not about teams but it is actually about players and player development. The focus of the ENTP is to promote player development ahead of building a team and so our approach is to try and build an athlete who will then be able to play hockey. Having spoken with Paul Burton I know that the England U15’s girls team is based on the same principle so straight away we have a common aim.

“All I have to do is get the basics in place and this programme should run nicely alongside the current England Girls programme. I am really looking forward to getting started.”

The JLMC’s Jacqueline Pye has commissioned the new programme and she wants to see all of the EIHA registered girls players make the best use of this new programme by enrolling onto the events. With the close ties between the JLMC and England this new development initiative will bridge the gap between U11 Conference and England U15 Girls and she hopes to see a big improvement in the female talent pool through the This Girl Can idea.


Arrangements for the event at Ice Sheffield are being made for ALL girls players, regardless of their skills or experience. The aim is to develop girl players whether they are Club, Conference, England or GB players. It really does not matter what experience the girls have, there will be something for all of them to learn and take from the day. It is a fantastic opportunity for girls of all abilities to come together for the good of the Women’s game.

There are still places available on the event for EIHA registered girl players between five and thirteen years of age. The event starts at 9:00am and details can be found here: https://eihajlmc.teamapp.com/events/3408826