MAY 11 – GREAT BRTAIN’S Olympic hockey authorities have announced details of a new agreement between the three constituent Home Countries, ending three years of dispute over the best way forward and raise hopes of recapturing the glory days of 1988 when Britain’s men won the gold medal in Seoul (pictured).


Under the agreement, Scotland and Wales will continue to be funded by their local sports bodies up to World Cup level. The present system, under which England is the “nominated country” whose international performances count for qualification towards the Olympic Games, will continue, but Great Britain squads will now be assessed throughout the full four-year cycle.


“This is one the most exciting moments in the history of Great Britain Olympic Hockey,” said Roger Self, president of Great Britain Olympic Hockey Limited (GBOHL). “The Board and its Member Associations have confirmed their commitment to ensuring that GB is successful at Olympic level. 


“There is now a clear framework setting out the respective obligations and responsibilities of all parties to ensure that athletes from all home nations have the opportunity to succeed at Beijing in 2008, London in 2012 and following Olympiads. 


“I am delighted with the hard work, trust, dedication and performance focus that all members of the GB Board and their Home Nation Boards have shown in developing this unique understanding and mutual commitment.


“Devolution has meant that each of the Hockey Associations of England, Scotland and Wales are funded up to World Cup level by their respective Sports Councils. This provides opportunities for a large number of Home Nations’ athletes to gain top flight competitive experience in their respective national teams, but also GBOHL with the challenge of how best to optimise these benefits, with the objective of successful Olympic Games performance without duplicating the cost and efforts of the Home Nation set ups.


“Ever since the London 2012 Olympic Games were announced in July 2005, the GBOHL Board and the Member Association Boards have been working hard to secure a new robust business and performance framework agreement which will ensure success on the pitch for our Olympic athletes and improve governance processes to deliver that success.”


Among the new proposals in the agreement for the identification of potential GB players is the introduction of a new GB “Super League” involving five representative teams from England, two from Scotland and one from Wales competing against each other during April and May each year.


A new GB Under-20 team will also be created to give coaches an early indication of new talent, and to compete in various tournaments around the world.