Recently on The Roar, I proposed a major shake-up to the top grade’s of hockey in Western Australia.
Today I go a step further and talk about how I feel the game needs to be re-structured across the board so that the sport continues to thrive.
With the almost-certain departure of the National High Performance program from Western Australia in the not too distant future, the pressure on the Metro competitions and clubs will increase.
They are already struggling with numbers and producing good talent. Just look at the most recent Hockeyroos squad, where there were just two Western Australian players selected in the national side, compare that to the 80s and 90s when there was a minimum of five in most squads picked.
So what’s gone wrong I hear you ask? Well, it’s simple.
The powers that be thought they would always be the powerhouse of Australian hockey and that has resulted in them sitting back and doing very little, or nothing, for far too long, which allowed the processes for producing new talent to break-down.
In this state, the game has suffered, with our greatest talent production line in the country breaking down. This has happened because the people running the game in Western Australia have shrunk back to the Metro area and lost sight of the larger state area.
So what do we need to do?
I am proposing a very radical prescription. The first step will be to set up two new bodies.
1. A Perth Metro Hockey Authority
2. A Country WA Hockey Authority
The Perth Metro Hockey Authority will take over running the Metro competition and player development, and the Country WA Hockey Authority will oversee the various Country competitions out there, also taking responsibility for player and junior development.
Both new authorities will then break their areas up into zones and hire Development Officers to work on junior development in those regions.
Hockey WA itself will go back to being the over-arching state body with responsibility for the following:
1. State teams and talent identification
2. Setting the overall vision for the game in Western Australia
And that will pretty much be it.
Now don’t get me wrong, there hve been some good changes in recent years within hockey in Western Australia, including the introduction of the coordinated talent programs that have been a success and those who ran these programs and introduced them should be acknowledged.
However, it is not enough right now, we must go a step further.
Every other state in the country has jumped ahead of Western Australia in all areas of junior development and now there is a strong argument that Western Australia, as a hockey powerhouse, would be fourth in the nation behind Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.
We need to be looking east at some of the initiatives they have introduced over there, such as the J-Ball in Victoria and ACT, and the Kookaburra Eights in NSW, along with the new Joey Ball.
As I said before, its time for real change for hockey in Western Australia and it’s perhaps time that we had an inquiry set up by the new West Australian State government through the Department of Sport and Recreaction.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some real success stories here in Western Australia in terms of game development, juniors and increasing numbers in the game etc, like Bunbury, Busselton, Albany and Geraldton, but these are offset by massive problems in the metro areas, and in particular Peel, where the game seems to be in free fall.
Once again, I am simply offering ideas.
I am offering the start to a proper debate and conversation, what I am not doing here, and I make this clear, is picking on individuals. That’s not what I am doing here.
I want hockey in Western Australia to be strong because when hockey in the state is strong, Australian hockey, in turn, is strong. The simple fact is big changes are coming in the game at international level and right across Australia and the change train is leaving the station.
We want Western Australia hockey on that train because it won’t be waiting for them to get on.