SCOTTISH Hockey yesterday announced the appointment of three full-time club coaches.
As part of the recently launched professional coaching programme, John McKnight takes up the role at men’s First Division side Clydesdale, Chris Anderson takes charge of league rivals Grove Menzieshill, while Sandy Keith is to coach women’s Second Division outfit Granite City Wanderers Women.
Supported by Aberdeen Asset Management, a key investor in the development and growth of hockey in Scotland, the programme aims to benefit all levels of the game from the elite to the grassroots and ultimately improve the quality and standard of hockey players in Scotland.
As well as coaching their appointed National League club team, the new professional coaches will also work with smaller, local clubs, to facilitate talent development and to provide a link between the various levels of the game.
The coaches will be attached to their clubs for the next three years and it is hoped that Scottish Hockey will bring more on board in the coming years.
“It is an exceptional chance to develop my club with a wide range of responsibilities ranging from the first team to school festivals and taster sessions as well as coaching development,” said Menzieshill coach Anderson.
“The aim is to finish in the top four this year and challenge for the title in years to come, and ultimately to gain a place in Europe for the first time in the outdoor game.”
Lee Cousins, non-executive director of Scottish Hockey added: “We are delighted to appoint three professional coaches and deploy them to the selected clubs. These individuals have the required coaching qualifications and experience to make a positive impact across the range of activities included in their remit and to bring success to the clubs they are working with.
“As part of the coaching programme, each club has also identified local clubs to work with in establishing a clear player pathway. Universities are a huge generator of players and 83 per cent of our members have been to university, therefore it’s important that we bridge the transitional period between university and joining a local hockey club by offering players the opportunity to be coached by experience and qualified individuals. This programme will help to achieve that aim.”
The coaching programme also reflects a number of the aims set out by sportscotland’s “Coaching Scotland 2011-15” strategy; specifically the development of a competent and comprehensive workforce of coaches within the sport, through recruiting and retaining the right coaches and ensuring that they are supported, developed and recognised for their contribution.
Martin Gilbert, CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management, said: “We are delighted to be involved with this progressive, forward-thinking programme which aims to increase the professionalism and standard of hockey coaching in Scotland.
“We are partnering with Scottish Hockey in an effort to change the culture of hockey coaching, creating career opportunities and making the distinction between professional coaches and development officers within the sport.
“We hope that the new professional coaching programme is a success and fulfils the goal of improving the quality of players in our country. We wish the new coaches good luck in their new full-time roles.”