Ten years ago, Hockey Dreams Foundation was founded. A beautiful initiative for hockey which started in Zambia, but is now also active in Malawi and Uganda. SportWays Hockey Camps and Hockey Dreams Foundation immediately started an awesome collaboration. Hockey Dreams Foundation focused on the coaches and their personal development, we supported through materials and hosting coaches at our overnight hockey camps. In a series of three blogs, we look back on our amazing collaboration to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Hockey Dreams Foundation.

Let us introduce you to Martha. She’s a Zambian hockey player, and joined two SportWays overnight hockey camps in Amsterdam in 2015. With the support of Hockey Dreams Foundation, Martha was able to go to university and improve herself as a hockey coach. Learn about her experiences at SportWays, and the differences with hockey in her hometown Lusaka.

When I started as a Hockey Dreams Foundation coach, there were only a few hockey pitches in Zambia. I was only 16 years old, just finished high school and really wanted to go to a university. Hockey Dreams Foundation supported me in my studies ever since I became part of the organization as a coach. I enjoyed myself and my time at Hockey Dreams Foundation so much, just being together with the kids on the pitch, that I never stopped coaching.  

A few years later, in 2015, they asked me to join a SportWays overnight hockey camp in the Netherlands. I was super excited, and was really, really looking forward to it, even though I did not know what to expect. In the summer, I visited the Netherlands for a full month, and ended up going to two hockey camps in Amsterdam. 

I joined both camps as a hockey coach, and learned a lot. I enjoyed it so much. During the camp, I got the chance to develop my own exercises, together with three other coaches. We used different techniques, and spiced it up by adding some defenders. When it was finally time for the clinic with my exercises, I was really nervous. However, when I saw the kids doing it and enjoying it, I was very relieved. To watch them enjoy something I created was the best feeling ever.

Developing the exercise was educational as well. I got feedback on the exercise and my coaching skills from the Technical Director. That was really helpful. Even though it was all about the kids during the exercise, the Technical Director took the time for our individual development as well.

My experience in the Netherlands was unique. I got the opportunity to meet coaches and kids from all over the world, and learned a lot from the Dutch hockey culture and professionalism. There are so many hockey clubs in the Netherlands, and a lot of them play hockey on an extremely high level. In Zambia, hockey is not a regular sport. We only have about 6 local clubs, with a few (senior) teams each in our country, and they all share the same pitches. I got the opportunity to experience hockey from a completely different perspective. It really was a one-of-a-kind experience. 

I also learnt a lot about organizing big hockey camps. In Zambia, we only have day camps of one or two days. In comparison: the overnight camps that I joined took a full week, where kids stayed and slept at the camp every night. It was very educational to see how the staff handles all the different factors within the camp, and how flexible everyone was. I took all of these lessons with me when I flew to Zambia, and applied them to everyday situations at the Hockey Dreams Foundation programme back home.

My time at the SportWays Hockey Camps was more than wonderful, and I’ll never forget the experience. I sincerely hope that one day, we can host this concept in Zambia. A week-long camp, where kids sleep at the camp. Maybe this will become reality within a few years. A new level of hockey camps in Zambia!

Read another interview with Martha here.