The selection process is a well-known phenomenon for everyone in the Dutch hockey world. As well as a stressful period that nobody likes. Because say yourself, who likes to be on a field with 50 children, all wearing a bib with its own number, and having to drop a child or being at ‘risk’ to be dropped after 1 training only. Even if your multiple trial dates and the kids have been given a chance for a longer period of time, there are always parents who disagree with the club’s decision. It will not be the first time that a sponsor leaves a club or a parent cancels their volunteer duties because his/her daughter or son didn’t end up in a (selection) team that the parent thinks the child should be in. Of course there are also other methods to select and there are clubs that do this in a different way, but still…
Here in India, we take a slightly different approach. I will try to give you some insight into this.
Children can be invited to the selection trials in two different ways:
• via our own training education system;
• talented players from other parts of India via scouting during tournaments/field trips or our pre-trials.
Our own training education system – We start training children at the “grassroots”. Often small villages in the countryside where are program is running. From the grassroots, the best children can move on to our RDC (Regional Development Center). From the RDC on, the most talented and best developing children can be selected to partake in the selection trials for the academy.
Talents from the rest of India – For children from Jharkhand or Odisha we organize pre-trials locally as not all children are involved in our grassroots programs. For children from other parts of India we organize pre-trials at our academy that they have to register for beforehand.
Selection Days and Camps – Both, selection days and camps are organized. The days are so called pre-selections, children come by for 1.5 hours and all we do then is filter the least good ones from the group. The children who are still present after 2 days are invited to a selection camp. These camps are at the academy and last 2 weeks. In these 2 weeks the academy takes care of everything for the children, halfway the camp about half of the participants are weeded out. This way, the coaches have enough time to see each child more often (train twice a day). All coaches and coaches must keep a scorecard for each player during this selection. Because several coaches fill in this card, there is at the end a fair and clear picture of the ranking of each coach on every player. This makes it easier for us to determine who stays and who does not stay.
At the academy
We also use the scorecard system at the academy for our own players. After all, players are added every season and therefore players also have to be weeded out or leave out of free will. The basis of who will be weeded-out of the academy after a year and a half (that’s how long each player will at least at the academy) depends on several factors:
• School results;
• the ScoreCard (hockey and physical);
• and behavior of the player
These three points are viewed and archived three times a year. This way we can easily determine at the end of the season who can continue to the next season and who will be weeded-out. Without ever having a discussion, sounds great no?! If you think now, yes, but that does not apply to all of us at the club. I firmly believe that as a club you should take the time to test players for certain skills during the season and to have this assessed by several trainers. This creates a good picture of a player throughout the year and, in theory, selection training should no longer be necessary at the end of the season. It does demand something from the trainers, club and parents, but it still saves a few weeks of stress and frustration at the end of the season!