In 2017/18 we recorded a milestone in our three-year efforts to develop a high-performance pathway for children with a disability when talent identification officers chose eight girls and eight boys to become the inaugural Hockey Victoria state AA Aces players.
Each of the 16 players were presented with their state shirts when they attended a super clinic run by members of the Australian Hockeyroos team.
A further highlight of their year was playing as a team against the Victoria Police hockey team at the state’s regional hockey finals where they showcased their abilities to community members including parents and local councilors. For the first time, the game was also live-streamed through Access for All Abilities Play (AAAPlay).
In September 2018, Hockey Victoria selected a new cohort of Victorian AA Aces players when teams from Northern and Southern Specialist Schools came together to compete in a State Specialist School hockey competition day. It was also the first time that a country team from Sale brought a team to the event. This enabled HV to introduce a country AA Aces state team. We hope to grow the number of country entries in the future. We also plan to look for opportunities for the AA Aces to play interstate teams in the future.
The elite pathway would not have been successful without the early work we did to provide free clinics to South-East Specialist School Sports Association (SSSSA) schools in 2014, along with providing teacher professional development and inclusive coaching resources. All of this has enabled hockey to be embedded into the school's curriculum.
Hockey became part of the SSSSA interschool sports program in 2015 and by 2017 the SSSSA had become self-sufficient and no longer needed assistance to continue running hockey as part of their interschool sport every Friday. HV then began working with the Northern Special Schools Sports Association (NSSSA) to start hockey in that region. As a result of participant interest in hockey we have seen the team entries grow to three divisions - A, B and C grade.
Our vision is to Grow, Diversify, Unite and Excel. Developing programs for people with a disability is a key strategic commitment that will help us achieve our vision.
We have set key performance indicators that commit us to growing the participation of people with a disability, introducing All Abilities Hookin2Hockey programs, diversifying the high-performance pathway, and engaging with specialist schools and key organisations such as disability charity Scope and other leisure networks.
We will continue developing and promoting inclusive strategies to staff and clubs to support such programs.
We continue to evaluate the number of schools and students involved in our All Abilities Hockey programs.
By term 3 2018, a total of 285 students from 21 specialist and special development schools had participated in our interschool hockey competitions.
School requests to join the competitions and existing participating schools’ commitments to expand the program for their students, all signal the program’s success.
After evaluating the 2017 inaugural AA Aces team selection process, we identified that all team members had come from southern schools and we needed greater emphasis on state-wide selection. This guided our decision to move the 2018 state specialist school competition to the State Netball Hockey Centre which created more opportunity for teams in northern, southern and regional schools to attend, including Sale Specialist School.
We are committed to extending our Access All Ability programs for people with a disability with the introduction of AAA Hockin2Hockey Pilot program at Ballarat Hockey Centre in term 3 2019. This program aims to provide more opportunities for people with disability and special needs to participate in hockey at a level that meets their needs and ability, after school hours. For details on how to register for the Term 3 AAA Hockin2Hockey pilot program in Ballarat, contact Michaela Cook [email protected]