Mossley’s Performance Academy will play a high-quality series against Waterloo Ducks and Royal Orée in Brussels from August 25-28 with a view to setting up a development link in Belgium on an ongoing basis.
It is part of ambitious plans with the Newtownabbey club as they look to establish a Centre of Excellence at Mossley. The aim is for young players, within a targeted age group, to develop into high performance hockey players and be better placed to reach provincial and national levels of representation.
Gerry Hamill, the Performance Academy Head Coach, says of the initiative: “This strategic goal is aimed at attracting new players and player retention. These goals have been met in the first year of the academy with five new players joining the academy/club and retaining 100% of the academy players.
“Retention of players at the targeted age group can be an issue, especially for boys, and by offering a structured training and development program that assesses players on key development criteria and individual targets.
“This information is fed back to players at the start of the season, mid-season and post season, providing players with personal strategies for improvement and development and keeps them engaged with their sport.
“The Belgian series will provide a platform to attract players to the Mossley Hockey Club as it is offering players exposure to elite sport participation.”
In their first year, the academy has been approached by other clubs to benchmark their structures and approaches to player development. The academy has also played high-level games against the Irish Under-16 squad, the Ulster Under-16 and 17 squads, EYHL clubs and local schools preparing for cup competitions.
“These matches plus the links with Belgium and an invitation to play the USA Under-21 squad next year at the Scottish National Stadium later this year demonstrates an increase in the profile of Mossley Hockey Club and its Performance Academy,” Hamill adds.
“The Academy is increasing the profile of hockey and sport through its approach to player development, the high intensity matches played and the developing links with national and international teams/clubs as the Belgian series will provide this.
“In the weeks leading up to the Belgium Series, we shall also be playing Munster U-18s, the UK Lions and Leinster.
“This exposure to high level games, an international coach and the links developed on both a professional and personal level will provide Mossley with players and coaches who will return to the club with new ideas, new skills/techniques and an experience that will help them grow and develop within their sport and as individuals.”