GB Funding is Half Way There
IHUK has announced it has received $100,000 in a funding grant from the IOC for the menâ€™s senior hockey team. It is a major boost for the team that travel to Riga next month with a shot at making the Olympic Games in Sochi for the first time since 1948.
The money is to be used to pay for training camps, transportation and other costs. This comes on the back of a deal with Bauer to supplier on and off ice equipment. It is a major boost for areas in which the British national team have struggled when compared to their European neighbours and competitors. It is however only half the battle. Funding for training camps and providing better travel condition that will allow the team to arrive in optimum condition to compete is one thing but carrying it will rely on cooperation from the EIHL and EIHA.
Prior to last seasons World Championships the GB team enjoyed 2 days of training camp all season. This is far lower than most other countries at the same level and more importantly a substantial amount lower than teams at the next level, which is Great Britainâ€™s ambition to be at.
For example the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden enjoy some of the best time together as a team through the Euro Hockey League. A series of 4 tournaments played through out the year. That is perhaps little too ambitious at the moment. But Britainâ€™s near neighbours and fellow challengers for that Olympic spot in Riga, France also enjoy a number of opportunities to play together. The calendar for the senior menâ€™s team for the 2012 â€“ 13 seasons reads as such.
- June 25th â€“ 29th â€“ 4 day preparation camp
- November 5th â€“ 11th â€“ Tournament play against Russia B, Slovenia and Austria.
- December 10th â€“ 16th â€“ Tournament play against Denmark, Latvia and Slovenia.
- January 31st â€“ February 10th â€“ Training camp and Olympic Qualification Tournament against Latvia, Kazakhstan and Great Britain.
- April 2nd â€“ May 2nd â€“ Training Camp to prepare for World Championships
- May 3rd â€“ 19th â€“ World Championships.
This puts the British system to shame and by a team ranked only 7 places higher by the IIHF. By the time the two teams meet in Riga on February 8th France will have played the hosts Latvia in a previous tournament and enjoyed 4 weeks of training together. Britain on the other hand will have had 1 trip to Japan, a couple of days and 1 match against an import select side made up from the EIHL.
This is not all IHUKâ€™s fault. The EIHL and the EIHA who run the English Premier League need to get more cohesive with the national team when it comes to planning their season. Starting the season earlier to allow extra time before the World Championships and building in space for training camps do not cost money and would be a massive boost to the national team.
By making little changes the national team will be able to make bigger strides, allowing them to apply for bigger funding and develop further and so the circle continues. It is something that will benefit the leagues too. The NHL lockout created a great deal of interest in the EIHL and British hockey but to continue that the entire British hockey need to look to the national stage and ultimately it will benefit the teams both in terms of attendance figures and the quality of player that wants to play in the UK.