Scottish Hockey has made its first announcement as part of the Professional Coaching Programme this week. Three coaches have been selected to work on a full-time basis with National League clubs.
The Professional Coaching Programme aims to improve the quality of hockey players in Scotland.
This will lead to stronger National League competitions and result in Scotland becoming more competitive at international level.
After a successful application three candidates were chosen to begin the programme.
Chris Anderson will coach Grove Menzieshill’s men, Sandy Keith will be in charge of Granite City Wanderers’ women, and John McKnight will be coaching men at Clydesdale Hockey Club.
Director of Scottish Hockey, Lee Cousins, believes their appointment will be rewarding in the long term. He believes that this programme will not only benefit players already affiliated to local hockey clubs, but will also help university players dreaming of becoming professionals.
Shaun Miller, men’s hockey captain at Edinburgh Napier University, believes the developments in coaching and a switch in focus to encourage the younger generation are necessary for the development of Scottish hockey
He said: “I think at school level we are missing out on a lot of people, I know at my old school hockey wasn’t anything big.
“They are starting to do it more at primary level but previously if you were not at a private high school you miss out. You almost get forced into the rugby and football background.”
The Professional Coaching Programme was established with the help of Aberdeen Asset Management. Its contribution is the largest ever investment in the development and growth of hockey in Scotland.
These developments are the beginning of Sport Scotland’s “Coaching Scotland 2011-15” strategy. The funding will ensure coaches are financially supported, allowing them to dedicate themselves to the improvement of Scottish hockey.
This is the beginning of a long process for Scottish hockey and the results of the new effort will only become evident after several years.
Miller believes there are already causes for optimism.
He said: “Scottish hockey is catching up. I’ve noticed that Scottish players are getting more recognition at international level. It’s becoming a bigger sport especially after the Olympics.
“For a smaller country we are getting there slowly. We are beginning to be recognised again.”