The Swiss Youth Program
With no proper youth program, there is no future in ball hockey. I don’t know whether this is true for North America. I know for sure it is true for Europe. Why are Czech Republic and Slovakia some of the best ball hockey nations in the world? Why is Switzerland closing the gap to the top teams? Moreover, how to explain the amazing ascent of British ball hockey? The answer is simple. All these countries have a prospering youth program!
The structure of the Swiss program
As Switzerland is a relatively small ball hockey nation, so to the youth program is not big either. There are three age categories: under 18, under 15 and under 12. For those under nine; there are some tournaments called «Future Days» organised. Knowing about the importance of youth programs, the Swiss Association introduced years ago the rule that you can only play in the highest two divisions, if you have at least one youth team. If you don’t have a youth team or your only youth team is dissolved during the season, you are relegated into the third division.
To give the young players the best individual possible education, junior players are allowed to play without any restriction in every men’s team of their club as well as in every youth team of their club within their age limit. So an excellent U15 player will most likely play U15, U18 as well as the highest men’s division. He learns at the same time to be a leader (in U15), to be an important role player (U18) and to adapt at the highest level of ball hockey.
Girls participate in the boys program. For them a slightly different age limit applies.
The Swiss Coaching Program
«The best coaches for the youth», this is exactly what Swiss clubs do. When it comes to the formation of new coaches, Switzerland profits from a national program called «Youth and Sports». The Swiss government supports the formation of youth coaches in all sports with money and, even more importantly, with teaching materials and know how. To ensure the continuous quality of coaching, all youth coaches have to attend a formation module every second year. If they do so and train a youth team, their club receives governmental subsidies.
Some facts about youth ball hockey in Switzerland:
U18: 11 teams, current champion – SHC Belpa 1107
U15: 9 teams, current champion – Oberwil Rebells
U12: 9 teams, current champion – Oberwil Rebells
U9: 6 to 8 teams, no championship yet
Number of youth players currently playing regularly in the NLA – about 20.
The current top-scorer of the NLB (second division) is junior player Raphael Enzler from the Horgenberg Hammers with 25 points in 6 games