As we transition from the outdoor to the indoor season and embrace the busy period in sports, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to each one of you.
Some of you might be aware that I took a brief break from work in October/November due to unforeseen health concerns. I want to express my deep appreciation for the overwhelming support and kind words I received during that time, both through email, WhatsApp, and social media. My family and I are genuinely touched by your incredible response.
The start to the 23/24 season has once again been marked by a range of significant activity.
The introduction of our new digital registration system has been met with an incredible response from our membership. I wish to acknowledge the pivotal role played by our clubs in facilitating the rollout of this innovative process. Despite some minor hurdles, your patience and practical approach have contributed immensely to modernising our membership procedures. While we recognise that a few players are yet to register, I urge those individuals to do so during this Christmas period.
Player registration not only provides crucial resources for various aspects of our sport but also plays a pivotal role in accessing central funding from Sport Wales.
Another notable change has been the revamp of our performance pathway through the relaunch of county teams. In our efforts to engage more effectively with young athletes and support families facing rising sports and living costs, we've established 8 County teams for the U15 and U17 levels. These developmental stages are crucial for athletes, allowing us to identify a broader talent pool ahead of selection for the National Age Grade 18s.
Setting up these County teams involved extensive work in identifying coaches, venues, and implementing a new registration process. As expected with any new initiative, challenges emerged, and we acknowledge the need to enhance our communication and organisation as we move forward with this project in 2024 and beyond.
Your feedback, both positive and constructive, is greatly appreciated, and we are committed to making necessary improvements. Already, these changes have yielded significant progress, with nearly 1000 young players nominated for training sessions—almost two and a half times the numbers from previous years, which is truly encouraging and sets a positive tone for the seasons ahead.
In September and October, we welcomed two new team members, Joe Gage and Harriet Barker, who have made immediate impacts within the organisation. Joe has been instrumental across various facets in developing the sport, while Harriet has been actively engaging with clubs, schools, and partners. In the coming year, Harriet has exciting plans to unveil for South East Wales.
I am delighted to announce the successful recruitment of two additional officers who will assume Development Officer positions in North and South West Wales. Further details about their roles will be shared upon their commencement in the New Year.
On the commercial front, we've recently forged key partnerships with Physique and Net World Sports, providing essential resources to our organisation and offering clubs access to discounted equipment.
Additionally, in 2024, we will unveil a series of new partnerships, including an exciting long-term apparel collaboration with a major sports brand.
As our core funding from the Welsh Government and Sport Wales faces reduction in the next two years, it's imperative that we explore further commercial avenues. The funding landscape is becoming increasingly challenging, necessitating collective efforts within the sport to identify new opportunities and sustain our operations.
Looking ahead to 2024, we have an array of events on the horizon.
At the end of January, we plan to conduct a series of club forums across Wales, providing an opportunity for clubs to engage with our new staff and deliberate on club-related matters.
Additionally, on the 20th and 21st of January, the Indoor Hockey tournament finals will take place over two days. I extend a massive thank you to all involved in this competition.
Volunteers play a pivotal role in our organisation, and their support remains integral, especially as we move forward. Rest assured; your assistance is deeply valued.
Easter weekend promises an exhilarating display of international Hockey. We are in the final stages of planning, and across the entire weekend, we will be joined by Canada, Austria, and Scotland, setting the stage for challenging encounters for our U18s, U21s, and Senior women. Keep an eye on our social media platforms and emails for further details.
On behalf of the entire organisation, I extend my heartfelt thanks for your unwavering support and contributions throughout 2023.
Wishing you a joyous Christmas and a prosperous New Year.