I have been in the ISBHF as a player, coach and now executive since its first tournament in 1996. I am hard pressed to think of a more exciting and successful season to ever come close to what a great ride the ISBHF players, support staff, referees and fans were privy to in 2018, and what it meant for our sport. Simply put, in my eyes, that was the best year ever!
So, I guess I better tell you why with a report.
The 2018 ISBHF World U16 Boys & U20 Girls Cup in Zlín & Přerov, Czech Republic was a historical tournament with our first ever junior women’s category played. The organizing committee was outstanding, and we witnessed some amazing games and fan support.
The 2018 ISBHF U20 & U18 Juniors Championships in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada had some big crowds at truly exciting games, the organizing committee was absolutely brilliant and stimulated support of local fans.
We created history at the 2018 ISBHF Masters Championships in Hamilton, Bermuda. Never before had an international tournament been played at a more amazing venue. The organizing committee secured sponsors, put in a tremendous amount of work, and the fantastic show was its result. Some amazing games were played, with the Governor of Bermuda handing out gold medals to our players!
The 2018 ISBHF Asian Championship in Hong Kong had some great and passionate players of Asia who competed with effort. The organizing committee worked very well and has a strong commitment to growing the game in Asia.
ISBHF strength was shown through the great ball hockey communities that exist in the areas that hosted these events, from Asia, Europe, Bermuda to North America. Simply put, each event rose to the gold standard, and was without question the best ball hockey event at each level in the world. Players, coaches and parents should note that, for the quality of competition, a strong and proud ball hockey community on the ground is the simple formula to success.
These events, the national teams that attended and most importantly the organizing committees that hosted are all the recipients of memories of excellence and personal history of each unique area that will stay with participants for life. There is not much more to say than – this was the best year of the ISBHF!
Besides being privileged to represent the sport on all of our behalf at each of these events and meet so many amazing people who love our game, I had the honour of taxing my ever dwindling vacation leave by attending one more event in August by playing in the Presidents Cup in Sheffield, United Kingdom. Once again, the key formula is a strong and proud ball hockey community. The organizing committee of BHUK hosted teams from England, Wales and Canada and another amazing event occurred.
For me, being in person at ISBHF tournaments in the Czech Republic, Canada, UK, Bermuda and Hong Kong, made this the most memorable year of my long and amazing journey in this game. I feel blessed to have been part of it, and know in the future some young coach or player will one day sit in my shoes and understand fully what I am saying.
I would also like to thank my old timers team, the Withrow Park Knights, who are part of the CBHA, for continuing the journey in Serta, Portugal, to play the first international games in that nation. We are proud to say that we have now seen videos of games in Portugal and we hope to continue to work with them as they build on their hockey culture. This is another important contact on the ground that the ISBHF will work with.
The ISBHF did not stop there. Did you know we sent coaches on the ground to India and North Korea, putting our development money to work? We had an ISBHF emissary from our ISBHF Hong Kong family Wayne Chow go to India to teach the kids the same fundamentals he is teaching youth in Hong Kong. The CBHA sent emissary coaches Dave Weloy and Gary Slavin to the Falkland Islands who we hope will be a South American Hub, with its amazing ball hockey community leading the way for our sport. We have seen and you do see videos of this amazing sharing of our game. No one else but the ISBHF family is doing this exchange.
This year we also saw national championships in Finland and France. These were amazing events that the ISBHF family all over the world paid attention to. We all look forward to seeing more history and events made by these nations, and one day having an ISBHF international event held in these important nations to our sports future.
In my 2018 message, I mentioned that we would strengthen our ISBHF Committee structure.
The GAISF committee met many times and have sent some important legislation to be voted in at our Annual General Meeting in January 2019. This committee is also monitoring the actions of each of our nations in this fundamental building block, to get our sport working towards the Olympic Elevator. There are many who make proclamations that they will get our sport to the Olympics, without understanding how. The ISBHF understands, has been invited to the last two Olympic workshops and attended once again this year. This committee will continue to communicate with ISBHF members and lead the ISBHF towards the work that needs to be done to attain this goal.
Our Nation Development Committee had an amazing year creating the amazing history of coaches in India and North Korea, following having coaches in the Falkland Islands. But the committee is also working with many other nations around the world. African nations and others are communicating regularly with this committee and we are moving forward with what promises to be more amazing events to report on in 2019.
We have our Coaching Committee working on building online coaching materials and certification that will assist nations quickly build new players. We are quite excited to see what will be coming forward from this committee in 2019.
We will finalize and name our Women’s Committee at our Annual General Meeting and get them working to communicate and be a voice for the ladies’ and girls’ game for its future. We look to get this historical group off and running in early 2019.
We also have our Marketing Committee working hard on partnerships and we know we are really positioned to build on this area, as the ISBHF continues its growth and more and more people take note of us.
Finally, the 3 on 3 Committee is working on exciting motions and proposals to get this format running in the ISBHF family soon.
I may have missed something in this long message. As I close off, my quick thoughts are:
2018 was an amazing year! We could not have done it without amazing people who are volunteers, providing our players with amazing events. We thank each and every one who was part of our organizing committees at each of our events. Just fantastic!
I know that every player, coach, referee, fan and parent attending these events collected memories of a lifetime with the 2018 ISBHF venues. Thank you to the players for your talent and excellence. Thank you to the thousands of fans who cheered them on.
I always told the players I was thankful to coach as world champions to not be ashamed – to be proud and vocalize that they were the best after they beat the amazing players they had to beat respectfully to be called world champions. So, after this amazing year, and using that mantra of respectful and earned success, I say without question that the ISBHF is the BEST, most historical and deepest collaboration of great people working around the world that the ISBHF Family brings together to make our sport greater each day. Unparalleled, the gold standard in this universe of our game – the authority in our sport!
I look forward to our ISBHF Annual General Meeting in 2019 hosted by our ever growing UK Family in Sheffield (and to visit its league in Scotland!), to set our ISBHF Family on a great 2019 season.
All the best to you all in 2019. We are ready to have another great year. Events in Slovakia and the Czech Republic are calling!