USA Field Hockey recently announced it’s 2011-2020 Long Term Strategic Plan (LTSP- my abbreviation). The LTSP is the product of information gathered through membership surveys, Town Hall style meetings among parents and coaches and no doubt countless meetings among board members. The final product is nothing short of breathtaking in terms of its scope and ambition.
I’ve got to hand it to the USFHA. They’ve laid down the gauntlet as a matter of public record. The LTSP, as its published, provides a Cliffs Notes version for the future of sport development from A-Z over the next decade. Some general thoughts/impressions:
I love that High Performance is identified as the first strategic goal. After all, what is the purpose of the sport’s governing body if not to produce ‘competitive excellence’ among our national teams on an international scale? Aside from the obvious commitments to facilities and technical resources, the LTSP makes specific mention of the need ‘boost’ financial support for national team players. Achieving a respectable athlete stipend will go a long way towards not only retaining the top committed athletes, but will also lend some credibility to the high performance lifestyle among development players. The net effect should result in longer average playing careers, thus allowing a broader number of athletes to realize their full potential.
The LTSP also covers the vast and fertile ground of Sport Development. Goals specify increasing playing opportunities among all demographics accompanied by increased membership to the association. That makes good sense: More people playing the sport + more opportunities to play = a statistically greater chance to produce high performance athletes. The US has an abundance of the resources necessary to make this happen, such as access to information, population and motivation. What is lacking is physical infrastructure, i.e. turf hockey fields.
Granted, turf fields of varying types are more prevalent now than ever before. However, the vast majority of them are owned and operated by high schools and universities- each of which likely engaged in a lengthy battle of bureaucratic maneuvering and fundraising in order to afford their fields in the first place. That environment, combined an institution’s own sports programs as an administrator’s primary focus, does little to pave the way for private access to facilities – as a non-profit organization or otherwise. As one who has built a business dependent on renting facility space, I see future growth of the sport largely as a function of the available time and expense of turf fields.
Considering the overall depth of the LTSP, I highly recommend you giving it a read for yourself. It does a nice job of articulating USFHA’s vision for the next decade and provides a solid backdrop for which to evaluate future objective results.
-Matt Winn, Director.
[Matt Winn, CE Business Director, is solely responsible for any intended or perceived editorial content in this post. Questions or concerns? Email Matt directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.]