Former Ireland International goalkeeper Angela Platt is keen to push progress in the Ulster Hockey Organisation even further this forthcoming season.
Through her pivotal role as Executive Manager in the organisation, local woman Platt is at the head of both the strategic and managerial departments.
Implementing new and vibrant structures within the province’s hockey foundations and existing setup provides Platt with one of the main areas of responsibility.
With 16,000 players participating in the game from underage right through to international level the organisation strives to create a base for all ages and abilities.
Platt said: “The organisation seeks to provide a high level of competition and structure for players who are just starting out and players who have years of experience. This encompasses our general ethos at Ulster Hockey.”
Notable changes have swept through the Ulster Hockey structure over the past four years with a previous division between the men and women’s game resulting in collaboration in May 2009. Switching from an organisation governed by two separate male and female bodies to one united organisation has resulted in significant progress for Platt and her staff.
Describing the amalgamation between men and women as a “huge aspect” of her work Platt made reference to feelings of great satisfaction when seeing the organisation roll into one.
“Having facilitated successful meetings between both sides of the organisation to achieve unification, it was fantastic to witness men and women coming together to expand Ulster Hockey through a modern day approach.
“I no longer have people coming to me with separate gendered queries. It’s hockey as a whole. It now provides us with a collective mindset where we are all working towards the same goal.”
Platt also stressed the importance of her playing experience as an international when implementing such changes to the system. With 75 caps for Ireland, the former goalkeeper recalled “coming from the perspective of playing hockey within the organisation to utilise former relationships with both players and coaches in an attempt to gather views across the structure.”
She said: “My main aim was to listen to as many members as possible and then start discussions and work towards achieving one organisation.”
Platt made it clear that there are further plans for Ulster Hockey over the next four year period.
The role and structuring of players will still act as the main focus for the organisation with the expansion of the positioning of volunteers through the introduction of coaching roles becoming another area of development.
“We want to strengthen the role of volunteers by creating further coaching opportunities within our structures engaging with our valuable volunteer base.
“The organisation has so many individuals who give their time freely and it is an aim of ours to develop their involvement even further”, she said.
The ex-international confirmed her experience as a player coming into the managerial and the “behind the scenes” role as “eye opening.” Platt immediately recognised the high level of commitment and dedication offered up by the volunteers and staff at the organisation when joining the ranks from her player background.
“I became aware of how much hard work goes in to provide players with training and match day preparations and how much it takes to manage the organisation and to implement changes.”
The participation levels within clubs and schools appears to also be of great importance for Platt as she looks to builds from the foundations up.
“By adding to the system already put in place by the organisation’s previous four year plan I hope to build stronger and more substantial structures in clubs and schools, providing extra layers of funding and player coach support.
Through the organisation’s Grassroots and Talent ID Programmes, players in primary schools throughout Northern Ireland are receiving quality coaching from under 11, 12 and 13 levels with participation figures having increased by an impressive 25% in primary schools alone.
There will also be further development with the Ulster Hockey Academy, Ulster underage squads and the senior contingents to ensure that the complete pathway from primary school to potential international representation from an Ulster perspective is achieved.
Platt is insistent that the role of coaches from the underage levels right through to the seniors is vital to the success of the organisation’s aims.
She will be “funding these coaches heavily over the next four years.”
“Those players who are coming through at the present moment in time will hopefully have as good as if not a better chance of making it to international level as the one I received all those years ago.”