Sheffield Steelers and former Great Britain head coach Paul Thompson will give a keynote address at a special event for coaches to be held next month.

thommobig-85289380With the England National Team Programme (ENTP) about to enter the final quarter of 2016/17, GM Gary Apsley has announced details of a new element of the programme – the ENTP Coaches Workshop which will take place on the evening of Wednesday 15th February 2017 at Ice Sheffield.

The ENTP Leadership team in conjunction with the Chair of the Junior League Management Committee want to see greater collaboration between the coaching staff from clubs, conferences and England.  Moving forward over time this collaboration will need to be extended to include coaches from all of the UK’s hockey community with a common purpose to benefit the sport as a whole.

Back in December the ENTP and JLMC came together to try out a new player development initiative using the label “The Power of Ten” (PO10). Whilst this initiative was targeting players born in 2006 (ten year olds), there was also a desire to see the U11 Conference head coaches working alongside the England staff. The PO10 ideals of seeking to “Inspire, Motivate and Improve” athletes within ice hockey proved to be a big success and the feedback from both England and conference coaches who took part was very positive which was seen as the potential not just to benefit players, but also a benefit to the coaching staff and the wider EIHA programmes.

At the lower end of the coaching spectrum, there appears to be a clear demand for coaches to come together to work collaboratively for the benefit of all participants. Last summer the JLMC hosted a jamboree event for Under 9’s at Ice Sheffield and Peter Winn from Advanced Hockey Development was engaged to provide a short mentoring session for twenty junior team coaches – again this was a huge success.

With the experiences gained from delivering the Power of Ten to a new group of players accessing the EIHA’s Elite Pathway, and in working with head coaches of the EIHA’s U11 Conference programme, and having established a revised format for the JLMC’s U9 jamborees which includes coach development and U11 development, the ENTP Leadership Team in conjunction with the JLMC have announced an evening workshop under a working title of “Coaches – Let’s Start The Conversation”.

talkThe aim of the workshop will be to challenge the current thinking amongst those volunteer coaches who are charged with developing the emerging talent from the grass roots of the game.

Ben Pitchley, England head coach will be opening the debate. He said today: “This workshop is a major piece of the ENTP jigsaw. The JLMC wants the England coaching staff to work more closely with conference and club coaches. We started that process with the Power of Ten. I hope that this workshop will allow us to establish a set of core principles and values that can be accepted and adopted by my coaching staff and the wider EIHA Conference programme coaching and management staff.”

The organisers expect the core principles and values will then underpin the Terms of Reference which will in turn inform club coaches of the general requirements for players and staff who have an aspiration to join the EIHA’s Elite Pathway on their way to IHUK’s GB Programme.

Pitchley added: “I have been around England teams for the past eight seasons and I can not recall working closely together with the other team coaches. As I look back I think that was a huge opportunity that we all missed and as I look forward now to the future with the aspirations of IHUK and Team GB taking a more significant role in the development of our players I know that we need to bring everyone involved in the EIHA’s elite pathway on to the same page. This means club, conference and England coaching and management staff all pulling in the same direction.”

The demands for this proposed event were set out in the ENTP Programme Development Plan drafted and presented in April 2016 and were seen as a key component of three of the programmes Top 10 Priorities.

Programme Director, Geoff Hemmerman explains: “When the Board approved my proposal for re-booting the England programme, I wanted us to bridge the gap that was evident between Conference and England. As we moved forward the JLMC stated their wish for us to bridge the gap between clubs and England.

“As the England programme began to regain some of the lost ground more coaches began to take an interest in what was happening and now we have a team of more than thirty staff who together look after the U13, U14, U15, U19 teams and the U15 girls team.”

The format for the Workshop will be similar to a typical seminar. It will start with a presentation by Ben Pitchley and will be followed by the keynote address by one of the most prominent coaches in UK ice hockey – Sheffield Steelers’ coach Paul Thompson. The ENTP team approached Mr Thompson and were delighted with his response.

“I’m happy to help the kids game in anyway I can,” said Thompson who also coached Great Britain national team as well as coaching in Sweden and Denmark.

“My own boy had his first experience of the EIHA’s Conference programme last October and I realised I knew nothing about Conference. I made some enquiries and even talked to his coach.

“I was very interested in what was happening and obviously wanted to know more. Now I have an opportunity to share some of my experiences and ideas with those guys who give up their time to help the future players of our sport become ice hockey players who maybe aspire to play for teams like the Steelers or even play at a higher level.

“We all know kids have dreams, and I think we can do more to help them achieve their dreams.”

With Thompson confirming his support the event became a certainty and with England’s final development session planned for Thursday 16th February, the night before was the only real choice.

Gary Apsley explained: “Getting the coaches and mangers together with any frequency is almost impossible given the commitments to their Clubs. We already had a full day on 16th February so the Wednesday night seemed a logical choice and as Thommo was available we decided to go for it.

“We appreciate that Coaches will have work or other hockey commitments that might be a struggle for them to get away from but there’s never a good time for an event such as this and with most of the ENTP staff in Sheffield on 16th, the 15th is the only real option. I hope the coaches who are interested in attending this event will be able to free-up the time to make the trip to Ice Sheffield.”

The target audience for the “Let’s Start The Conversation” workshop is

• Current England National Team staff (U13, U14, U15 & U19)
• Current Conference Mentor Coaches
• Conference Team Head Coaches (U11, U13, U15 & U17)
• Conference Chairs
• EIHA Technical Directors

Geoff Hemmerman provided more insight to the specific purpose of the event, and said: “It is generally understood that Ice Hockey in the UK is under review that might lead to substantial and significant transformation and whilst Ice Hockey UK the EIHA and SIH have some ambitions for a unified Governing Body, work “on the ground” to address the real problems of sport delivery being faced by participants in the junior sections of the game in 2017 has yet to gain any real momentum.

“With that in mind, the specific purpose of this workshop will be to “start a conversation” within the various sections of the EIHA which can then in turn inform the Directorate of the preferred direction of travel by those people who are currently delivering the Association’s programmes to the youngest participants in our National Programme.”

Ben Pitchley echoed Mr Hemmerman’s thoughts and added: “This event is a meeting of coaches and those with influence over coaching at club, conference and national team level. It’s sole purpose is to try to bring coaching philosophies together with coaches from member clubs finding some common ground on how to develop players for the National Team Programme.

“We all need to appreciate that things might change in the future and when that time comes, the ENTP coaching staff and all the coaches that provide support to the ENTP need to be able to embrace a new way of working that will be seen to deliver betterment for the benefit of our kids.”


6:30 PM Arrival and networking “Let’s Start The Conversation…”
7:00 PM Welcome and Buffet Dinner
7:30 PM Presentation: “Joined-up thinking”
7:50 PM Key Note Address “We Need to Change”
8:30 PM Questions
9:00 PM Key Priorities & Actions (Top 10)
9:30 PM Summary and Next Steps
9:45 PM Close

Full details of the event can be found on the JLMC TeamApp and the ENTP TeamApp.