A delegation from a Netherlands-based hockey foundation, Kadish International, arrived in the country on Tuesday to assess the standards of the sport and identify areas that need urgent help.
Jelle Rowold and Corine Oudewaal, whose foundation helps hockey development in South Africa, Zambia and Uganda by providing equipment, coaching courses and scholarships to players and officials, will have a three-week sojourn to meet local hockey officials, watch some games and training sessions and evaluate the country’s hockey facilities.
Malawi hockey came to their notice through Kadish International founder Gys Hardeman who noted the tremendous improvements local club Genetrix Men made in just two international appearances.
The team won the five-team Phoenix Assurance Hockey Championships last May in Lusaka.
“We got inspired by the success story of Genetrix Club at the international events. We did not know hockey is played here until we sampled the performance of this team,” Rowold said after monitoring Genetrix Club’s training session at Chichiri Primary School ground on Tuesday.
“Hockey is a big sport that has over 300 000 players in our country, where we have eight league divisions. As Kadish Foundation, we are here to identify areas that need urgent support before we can make Malawi our fourth beneficiary.”
According to Oudewaal, who played in the Dutch fourth-tier hockey league for 22 years since she was eight, said they would also like to make hockey a sport through which Malawians should earn a living.
“In most African countries, hockey development is stifled by lack of funds for organised leagues and proper facilities. But we have set up a strategy to help in these areas and the employing of coaches in such countries is one of such fulfilments. For example, we have now employed five development coaches in Zambia,” she said.
As we went to press, the Kadish Foundation representatives were having a meeting with officials from local hockey clubs at the Sports Council Offices in Blantyre.
On their part, Genetrix Club general secretary Herbert Nkhoma and coach Geofrey Biya said they appreciate the foundation’s kind gesture, which would help to improve the standard of the sport in the country.