Program Description

INTERNATIONAL ICE HOCKEY FEDERATION BRINGS COUNTRIES TOGETHER TO BOOST GROWTH OF WOMEN’S HOCKEY;
CANADA’S HAYLEY WICKENHEISER TAKES ON KEY LEADERSHIP ROLE IN NEW DEVELOPMENT INITIATIATIVE

July 1, 2011 will mark the start of the most comprehensive IIHF women’s hockey development initiative so far, with coach mentors and athlete ambassadors from the top four nations set to assist programs in nine other countries over two-and-a-half years.

The IIHF Ambassador and Mentor Program (AMP) will create partnerships between some of the world’s best women’s hockey coaches and players, and countries that are striving to join the sport’s global elite. All of the athlete ambassadors and coach mentors bring tremendous experience to the program, with most having won multiple medals at the IIHF World Women’s Championship and Olympic Winter Games.

Hayley Wickenheiser, a veteran of Canada’s National Women’s Team, will help set direction and provide support for the athlete ambassadors, allowing her vast experience and knowledge to be shared with all nations participating in the program.

 “It’s exciting to be a part of the athlete ambassador program because I feel it will make a direct and immediate impact on helping players from (other) countries,” Wickenheiser said. “Having access to world and Olympic champions is invaluable and will be an important step in continuing to grow and improve women’s hockey around the world.”

The ambassadors and mentors come from the top four teams in the world: Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States.

The nine nations that will participate in this program are China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, Norway, Russia, Slovakia and Switzerland. Each will be assigned two athlete ambassadors and two coach mentors in order to build successful relationships over the course of the program, which runs from this July through the end of January 2014. The IIHF expects ambassadors and mentors to communicate with the coaches of both the senior and under-18 women’s teams of the participating nations at least every two or three weeks.

“The best way to become successful is to have the opportunity to learn from someone who has already been successful,” said IIHF women’s program manager Tanya Foley, who has played a key role in launching the new program. “The teams that will qualify for Sochi will have a resource that no team entering an Olympic Games has previously had, and we believe this will help them prepare for elite international level competition in a very positive way.”

Factors such as language skills, previous positive relationships and specific needs of a country were all considered when determining assignments, in addition to ensuring that active athlete and coaches are not assigned to a country they’ll play against at the 2012 IIHF World Women’s Championship in Burlington, Vt.

Foley said that while the IIHF doesn’t believe there will be “an equal balance” among all countries by Sochi 2014, the program’s intention is to focus on the countries most likely to qualify for the next Olympic Winter Games. “The AMP program will be one of the most effective initiatives in bringing the nations as far along as possible, (in a relatively short amount of time).”

To see which Canadian players and coaches have been selected to serve as ambassadors and mentors, CLICK HERE.

For more information on the IIHF Ambassador and Mentor Program, please visit www.iihf.com.

For more information:
Kalli Quinn Director, Female National Teams | Équipes nationales féminines