World Masters Hockey Ltd (WMH) is officially recognised by the FIH as the only hockey entity responsible for the worldwide organisation and management of Masters Hockey Events for Men and Women of all age groups.
WMH is a private, not-for-profit sports company, limited by guarantee, owned entirely by its membership and registered in Scotland (UK).
It is managed by 7 members of a bi-annually elected Executive Board (EB) which is advised by 5 Standing Committees.
WMH strives to maintain a gender balance and equal continental representation within the EB and on all of its Committees.
WMH is funded by the collection of members’ annual fees. These fees cover the organisation’s annual running costs. WMH is managed by unpaid volunteers, elected by the membership.
An elected Finance Director and external auditors ensure that the funds are managed responsibly and solely for the benefit of the membership. WMH Officers may be compensated for expenses they have incurred on behalf of WMH.
Masters Hockey is organised into 10 x five-year age groups for both Men and Women’s teams – O35, O40, O45, O50, O55, O60, O65, O70, O75 & O80.
Given the number of teams which participate, it will be very rare for all these age groups to participate at one location. Generally, each outdoor Event may be split into several tournaments e.g., O35 – O45 in one location, O50 – O60 in second location and O65-O80 in a third location.
N.B the number of tournaments and age groupings will vary according to the number of teams entered.
Indoor Championships tend to have fewer teams so may well be located in just one facility.
WMH organises indoor and outdoor World Cups (WC) and Continental Championships (CC).
WMH invites Member NA Masters Hockey organisers to bid to host one or more tournaments within one of these Events. Bids will be invited at least 2 years in advance of the actual Event.
WCs take place on even numbered years and CCs on odd numbered years. The number of participating teams and the availability of appropriate venues can lead to these Events being split into multiple tournaments for different age groups. A WC may be held on different continents at different times in the same year. Similarly, it is possible that a CC may be held in different countries on the same continent.
The five FIH recognised hockey continents are Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and Panam. Any international Masters Hockey event run by an NA or Continental Federation will need WMH approval before they can request FIH sanctioning.
Social Hockey, which does not include international teams, does not require WMH or FIH approval.
The Spirit of Masters (SoM) is the name for a competition between teams of players who are not selected for international squads, or wish to play at a slightly less intense level of hockey.
SoM competitions take place alongside international matches at WMH Tournaments, at the same facilities and match officials are of the same high quality as the international matches.
This competition is important if WMH is to match the FIH vision of ensuring that hockey is a sport for all ‘from the cradle to the grave’.
SoM as a title, was first used by South African Masters Hockey, who kindly agreed to allow WMH to use this title. It is planned to develop this competition for all age groups from 35 years onwards.
The EB meets regularly and is made up of a President, General Secretary, Finance Director and 4 other ordinary members. They are responsible for the strategic and operational management of WMH.
The EB reports to the membership at the bi-annual General Assemblies where at least half of the EB need to be re-nominated and seconded by members if they wish to be re-elected. There are limits to the number of years a member can serve on the EB. The EB is advised by 5 Standing Committees.
There is also a Full Board which meets quarterly and includes representatives from each of the Continental Federations and the FIH. Any proposed changes by the EB, including changes in EB members, must gain the approval of the Full Board to be accepted.
The 5 Standing Committees meet very regularly and advise the EB to better inform decision-making processes.
Commerce is responsible for creating strategies to attract commercial sponsors to subsidise the running costs whilst developing and maintaining the WMH Brand and Image.
Development is tasked with widening the appeal of the sport to make participation more attractive. Masters Hockey 5s is one of the areas currently being considered for development.
Events are responsible for the planning and delivery of every Event and Tournament. This can range from assessing host bids and the quality of the hockey venues to monitoring the planning and implementation of the shared contractual requirements and working in partnership with hosts and other committees to deliver successful Events and Tournaments.
IT has responsibility for setting up and managing WMH emails systems, the web and social media sites, date storage and data protection on the WMH cloud-based servers.
Technical identify interested officials and umpires who match the competencies required to officiate at international level and appoint them to tournaments. They also manage tournament checklists, ensuring that hosts are fully aware and provide the appropriate level of support for officials during tournaments. They also produce all the relevant tournament technical documentation and ensure that the TMS system is in place and functions properly for recording match details.
WMH is fully aware of the need to reduce the impact of Masters Hockey Events on climate change. International hockey involves continental air travel, places high demands on local resources and accommodation, and generates high levels of waste.
All these issues were given very serious consideration and led to WMH developing a Sustainability Policy to advise host organisations as to how they can reduce the impact of WMH Events.
All bids to host WMH Events and Tournaments are scored and assessed according to how well the hosts will meet the requirements of that policy. Click here to access the policy.
WMH encourages participants to join a Masters Hockey group in their country of residence. These groups should ideally be members of that country’s NA, which is most likely to be a member of WMH.
Visit the Members Page to see which countries are members. If you contact them, they will be happy to explain the available options.
It is possible to become individual WMH members, but that route offers very few advantages and is expensive.
If you still need help or represent a Masters Hockey organisation in a country where the NA does not engage with WMH, please use the ‘Contact Us’ option on each page of our website and ask.
It is best to describe Masters Hockey as an evolution. Mature players of a certain age probably played in ‘fun’ games over a number of years and in a number of locations. However, although hockey has been a recognised sport for more than a century, organised Masters Hockey really only began to develop in Australia in the 1970s.
Australia was instrumental in setting up the Pacific Rim international Masters Hockey tournaments in 1981. These countries included Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
In Europe, the Netherlands led the way in the 1980s and persuaded France and Belgium to join in. On the British Isles, the 4 countries began competing with each other in the 1990s and became involved with Pacific Rim events around 2001.
WGMA began organising international events for the over 60 age groups around that same time and the IMHA was set up in 2007 for Masters Hockey players from over 40 to over 55. WMH organises events for players of both genders between the ages of 35 and 80+.
The following deserve recognition for their vital contributions: Ted Jones, (David Peebles, Sue Briggs (Aus); Johann Herbert (Bel); Robert Clark, Peter Child, Michael Gallant, Ben Rea, Adrian Stephenson (Eng); Wim van Noortwijk, & Bernard Verbunt (NL); Neil Greene (NZ); David Fargus, Doug Morrice & Glenn Paton (Scot). There will be many more who are the unsung heroes who probably should be added to this list.
There are many benefits in being involved in Masters hockey and these relate to both the individual and the wider hockey community.
Physiologically, Masters Hockey players tend to live longer than their compatriots, They also make relatively few demands upon their national medical services, despite match injuries!
Psychologically, they have a focus in their lives beyond work and the family (important though they are) and this provides a healthy release for the stresses of every day life. There are also the benefits of being part of the renowned global hockey family with all the enjoyment that comes with that! Post retiral Masters Hockey participants have a purpose for living and mixing with the younger age groups keeps them young at heart. It is good for the ego when one can successfully compete with players who are decades younger!
Generally, the longer players stay in the game, the more experience they gain (especially if competing with the best players of their age groups from across the world) and the more likely they are to pass this on to their younger team and clubmates to the benefit of local hockey. They also contribute financially to the game for many more years and provide good role models to follow.
A Masters Hockey survey asked participants to identify the values they considered to be most influential in motivating their continued participation. The findings were surprising and very interesting.
While competition is equally important for both international and social hockey players, the most highly valued components are those recognised to be the beating heart and soul of the global Hockey Family. The order of the most common labels were: Friendship, Ageless, Hockey Federation, Social, Respectfulness, Enjoyment, Hockey, Competition, Top Sport, Fun, Fairness, Honesty, Passion, Inclusion. All the other labels were less common.
This motivated the Logo designers to study a wide range of sports logos. They realised that none of these captured the values identified by WMH participants. Every sport using a stick or bat of some kind, seemed to include the organisation’s initials, a stick or bat or some other kind of equipment, and perhaps a national emblem. Few of the logos were particularly memorable or eye catching and many were more typical of the Western World than a reflection of WMH’s many cultures.
The values identified in the survey posed the question: how can any logo properly represent all these values? When investigating Art Themes from various cultures, it was discovered that the most common in design and message, had multiple overlapping shapes. The designers experimented with overlapping hockey sticks and balls. The interwoven sticks in a circle design proved to be the most popular, and the colours that best represented happiness, joy and positivity in must cultures, were red and white.
The design is fairly unique and it is memorable, even for those who really don’t like it! It has become the recognised symbol of WMH and Masters Hockey. The animated version of the logo, as can be seen on the website, highlights the WMH values and will allow commercial companies to see where their values and those of WMH values overlap, hopefully increasing their interest in sponsoring WMH. The Trademarks and Wordmarks are registered to protect the WMH Brand image and cannot be used legally, without WMH approval.
Why does WMH want Masters Hockey teams to be organised through NAs rather than as separate teams organised and run by the players themselves?
It is a matter of logistics, cost and reducing workloads. More NA involvement will lead to a slight increase in bureaucracy, but it will bring a number of very important advantages. WMH is managed by unpaid volunteers who devote many hours each day, working hard to develop the organisation for the benefit of all Masters Hockey players.
Five of the larger hockey countries have as many as 18 international teams. Each team operating independently, sending emails and expecting replies when entering teams or transferring fees, would generate a minimum of 360 emails. Add on to that at least 720 more generated by the other 60 member countries at an average of 5 teams per country and the emails relating to general enquiries, administration, communications with FIH, government bodies, company fees and reports, and more importantly, communications with tournament hosts, the Executive Board, the Standing Committees and etc. If every team was run through their NA, these demands would be halved and accuracy and efficiency would greatly increase. It is not easy to respond to emails from 450 groups, record details and provide timely responses. These estimates are underestimations rather than exaggerations. The demand scan only grow with increases in the numbers of teams and events.
Financially, each bank transfer incurs a charge. If an NA transfers the fees for all, there is one charge. If 18 teams act independently, that amounts to around £180. Spread that across 65 countries (300 teams) and the loss rises to over £3000. The payment and refunding of the tournament fees for the cancelled 2020 World Cup led to significant losses for all the participants and WMH, which did not request any membership fees in 2021. Common sense dictates that the income generated by the participants should not be lost to the sport because of political or personal issues within an NA. It cannot be that difficult for Masters Hockey organisers and NAs to find a way to resolve any issues with regard to transferring fees to WMH. The WMH Finance Director does not have the time to deal with to manage over 1000 transactions, when 70 are all that is really needed. What is a small and annoying ripple on the pond for a local organiser can become a tsunami for WMH Officers.
FIH were concerned that 2 large Masters Hockey organisations operating independently would dilute the hockey brand and their vision that hockey is a sport for all ‘from the cradle to the grave’. There aim was to have a more seamless transition as participants graduated from the Youth section, to the Senior section and then onto Masters Hockey.
It was also perceived to be easier to sell hockey as a complete package to Commercial sponsors and the Olympic Committee (IOC) if there were fewer organisations involved. At the time, there was the fear that 11-a-side hockey might lose its IOC recognition and the funding that came with it.
However the success of hockey at the 2012 London Olympics and the changes to the rules, which made the game quicker, more exciting and allowed players to develop completely new skill sets, has pushed that threat into the background. Having said that, the growing popularity of Hockey 5s may renew the threat to the 11-a-side game.
It may come to pass that FIH will take full control of Masters Hockey, but logistically and financially, that change is many years into the future.
Both organisations agreed that the WMH would be a good idea in principle but differed in opinion as to how the internal WMH operations should be managed.
WGMA proposed the name ‘World Masters Hockey (WMH)’ and IMHA accepted that proposal. There was general agreement with regard to administrative approaches and developing Masters Hockey at all age groups, but disagreement with regard to how the Masters and Grand Masters sections would be managed remained.
WGMA wanted WMH to be an umbrella organisation for IMHA and WGMA, allowing both to continue operating as they had done previously.
The IMHA preference was that all Masters age groups should be organised and managed so as to harmonise the strengths of both organisations and reduce the number of weaknesses. The FIH would not support an umbrella organisation and at meetings at an FIH Congress, stipulated that the 2 organisations should work together to set up the WMH by the end of 2019 and dissolve the 2 original companies.
The first task was completed when the first General Assembly was held in Amstelveen on 2nd August 2019. The IMHA was dissolved as a company in December 2019.
WGMA had concerns that WMH would become too bureaucratic and inflexible. IMHA felt that good management could ensure that this would not happen. WGMA were also concerned that WMH would focus on ‘elite’ international teams to the detriment of the Tournament Trophy (TT) ideal they had successfully developed over many years.
The TT competition was for players who were not selected for international squads or who wished to play at a less stressful level. The appeal of this competition was that it allowed players to participate at the same tournaments, alongside the international teams and enhance and enjoy the renowned Masters Hockey atmosphere. The TT included non-national sides from all over the world.
IMHA and WGMA agreed that the continuance of the TT format was important if WMH was to encourage players to stay in the game for longer and match the FIH vision that hockey was a sport for all ‘from the cradle to the grave’.
WMH is determined to ensure that the valid WGMA concerns about safeguarding the old TT hockey format, are addressed and allayed. To that end, it has adopted the title ‘Spirit of Masters’ (with the approval of South African Masters Hockey who use this title in their events) for this competition format and it is an integral part of the bidding process for hosting all future WMH Events and Tournaments. The age range has increased to include all age groups over 35 years. The Spirit of Masters (SoM) title is felt to accurately describe the ideals of TT hockey.
Eventually that may well happen, but at present FIH does not have the human or financial resources to manage Masters Hockey. Masters Hockey has more teams and events each year than FIH. Also, FIH lacks experience of the very different approaches required to organise and manage Masters Hockey.
The essence of Masters Hockey is its flexibility and its empathy for the participants and the wider hockey family. It isn’t all about winning matches or qualifying for the latter stages of world or continental championships, as is the case at FIH Events. There are other layers which are more inclusive and do not focus solely on the needs and desires of the elite athletes. Having said that, every Masters Hockey player is an elite athlete at their age group. Who can argue against that when O80s are competing for their country on a hockey pitch at a WMH Tournament!
The obedience of Anti-doping regulations is vital for FIH to retain IOC recognition and funding. Masters Hockey recognises and acknowledges the importance of these regulations, but cannot adhere to them without destroying the sport.
Many of the more mature Masters Hockey players require daily medication to keep them alive and a substantial number of these drugs are on the IOC’s prohibited list because they will enhance a player’s performance. In reality, the medical conditions, which dictate the taking of these performance enhancing drugs, tends to reduce the player’s performance level, cancelling out any advantages. Banning these players would have a serious negative impact upon the number of Masters Hockey participants, teams and events. This, in turn, would destroy the very reason for supporting Masters Hockey and the benefits it brings to individuals, their clubs and hockey in general.
WMH acknowledges anti-doping regulations, but these do pose serious issues for Masters Hockey participants. A large number of Masters Hockey players require daily medication to enable them to live a normal life.
Many of these drugs are on the prohibited list because they will enhance an athlete’s performance. However, the medical condition which dictates the need for these drugs in Masters Hockey players tends to reduce the player’s performance level, cancelling out any advantages.
If these players were banned from the sport, this would really impact upon the number of participants, teams and events, thereby destroying the very reason for supporting Masters Hockey and the benefits it brings to individuals and hockey in general.
The WMH Development Committee have been tasked with developing the Hockey 5 format to encourage the participation of countries which are unlikely to have enough players to form 11-a-side teams. It allows more matches to be played at smaller hockey venues, it is a high-speed game, there tends to be lots of goals and excitement and the format appears to be very attractive to many players and spectators.
However, the nature of the game poses serious questions. Given the pace of the game and the ages of the players, would 6-a-side be a better format? FIH changed their indoor competitions back to 6-a-side when the 5-a-side events failed to generate the desired audience numbers, so it is a case of wait and see.
WMH currently organises bi-annual Indoor World Cups for interested age groups and encourages indoor SoM competitions to run alongside these. It is expected that the popularity of these will increase in line with the outdoor versions.