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Global Game-Changers: Celebrating the unsung heroes on International Volunteer Day

Content Courtesy of FIH

On International Volunteer Day, we celebrate people from across the globe who selflessly give their service in the administration and promotion of hockey. From board members and committee chairs to coaches and umpires; from admin workers to the youngest ball patrol boy or girl – have all gone above and beyond to make our sport the very best experience it can be for all participants.

The list of FIH events made possible over the past year, due to the effective contributions of the volunteers include the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup, The FIH Indoor Hockey World Cups, the FIH Hockey Pro League, inaugural FIH Hockey Nations Cup and the ongoing FIH Junior Hockey World Cups! And while we are celebrating just a few individuals on the United Nations-led International Volunteer Day, it is worth thinking about, and recognising the work of each and every volunteer on every continent that made these, and many other hockey events, possible. 

To honor these hard-working and committed individuals, FIH is presenting an FIH International Volunteer Day award, recognising the invaluable contribution of each nominee. All the recipients of the award have been nominated by their continental federation.

In Asia, Makhmud Kholmatov and Sonia Khan have been nominated by the Asian Hockey Federation. 

Makhmud Kholmatov, a dedicated volunteer from Uzbekistan, is making a lasting impact on sports development, particularly in hockey. Passionate about nurturing young talent, he actively promotes the sport in schools and travels across Uzbekistan to foster its growth. Makhmud not only raises awareness but also provides tangible support, creating a vibrant hockey community. Moreover, he plays a pivotal role in educating the next generation of coaches, ensuring the sustainability and progress of the sport while embodying a broader vision of empowerment through sports.

Sonia Khan, a former hockey player (2002-2010), is honored this International Volunteer Day for her exceptional contributions to sports and education. As the founder of the Pakistan Sports Academy, she provides free hockey training, equipment, and education from matric to Master's degree, emphasizing holistic development. Sonia's dedication to service, focusing on nurturing athletic talent and empowering young minds, exemplifies the essence of International Volunteer Day. Her inspiring story highlights the transformative power of sports and education in shaping lives.

EuroHockey has nominated Chloe Jordan and Philip Schellekens for their utmost dedication to the development of hockey in Europe. 

Chloe Jordan, a dynamic 23-year-old, is a leading figure in EuroHockey’s Youth Leadership activities. Serving as co-chair of the Youth Panel since last December, she has been dedicated to hockey since her youth, starting as a Hockey Wales Young Ambassador at age 12. Chloe has been a prominent advocate for youth in various sporting organizations, playing key roles in organizing EuroHockey Youth Festivals and ID Championships. This summer, she led the EuroHockey Youth Festival in Germany, bringing together 50 individuals to showcase youth impact in the sport. Chloe, a Sport Wales Young Ambassador, Hockey Ireland Youth Panel member, and Youth Sports Trust board member, is undertaking sport studies at the University of Ulster. Passionate about disability sport, she actively promotes hockey for those with intellectual disabilities in Wales. Chloe's ultimate goal is to inspire more young people to engage in volunteering, utilizing her voice and platform for the next generation of youth leaders.

Philip Schellekens, a key figure in EuroHockey, has significantly contributed to the development of umpires. His tireless work spans the Netherlands, the European Hockey Federation, and international events. A former top-level umpire, he officiated the first indoor World Cup Final in 2003. Upon retiring, Philip became a crucial Umpire Manager (UM), shaping tournaments and providing essential support, preparation, and assessments for umpires. His mentorship extends to his role as NOC*NSF Referee Coach. As a leader in EuroHockey's Umpiring Development Programme (UDP), he has inspired and trained referees, showcasing his vast experience with enthusiasm. Philip's dedication to hockey umpiring and development is a valuable asset, marked by his leadership and enjoyment in the role of UM.

The Pan American Hockey Federation has nominated technical officials who go above and beyond their roles to develop hockey, in Adrian Della Mattia and Rene Zelkin

Adrian Della Mattia's impact as a Technical Official goes beyond his duties, extending to commendable dedication in developing fellow officials. In addition to his exemplary officiating, Adrian actively engages in training and mentoring Technical Officials across the continent. His hands-on approach in the field, offering invaluable insights and support, exemplifies a collaborative and supportive ethos that enhances the entire officiating community.

Rene Zelkin excels not only as a commendable Technical Official but also as a dedicated educator, playing a significant role in training officials across the continent. Actively engaged in online courses and mentorship programs, Rene extends her passion for the sport beyond officiating. His dual role underscores a commitment to elevate officiating standards and ensure a legacy of knowledgeable and skilled Technical Officials in the Pan American community.

In Africa Carla Jones of Zimbabwe has been nominated by the African Hockey Federation.

In the short span of two years, Carla Jones has emerged as a valuable contributor to hockey in Zimbabwe. Her involvement in the restructuring, coordination, and organization of all Zimbabwean schools hockey tournaments showcases her commitment to the development and organization of the sport at the grassroots level. Additionally, Carla has taken on the crucial role of tours coordinator for various national teams, including U13, U16, U18, U21, and the National team. Her versatility and efficiency are further highlighted by her current position as the Team Manager for the Zimbabwe junior women's team in Chile for the FIH Hockey Women's Junior World Cup 2023. In this role, Carla is entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the team's logistics and operations, reflecting her rapid and impactful ascent within the hockey community.

Among the thousands of volunteers involved in delivering hockey events around the world every year, these are just the stories of a few. On this International Volunteers Day, we give our thanks to every single volunteer whose efforts help grow and develop the world of hockey. They truly are the usung heros that make hockey possible around the globe. 

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