For the innovations part, Raeto Raffainer talked about a complete digital transformation program to achieve the best results internally and with other stakeholders. The environmental footprint of sport will be reduced and initiatives in this direction will be vital.
“The appeal of our best events must be maximized. We offer more than 40 tournaments per year, more than other team sports. We must explore ways to maximize our resources for the benefit of sport. We have listened over the past few months and must continue to do so,” Rafainer said and mentioned that a greater regional presence rather than a fully centralized approach is needed.
In the collaboration segment, Henrik Bach Nielsen announced the ambitions of an annual World Hockey Forum that will be created to bring together key stakeholders for constructive discussions. The exposure of ice hockey during the Olympic Winter Games and the Winter Youth Olympic Games should be brought forward for further discussion with the IOC. Additional discussions on the international schedule is another key initiative and the working relationship with trading partners needs to be strengthened to maximize exposure.
Expansion is another main goal. “We have to develop the game, but how do we do it? We need to reach more players and fans through stronger Member National Associations and more offerings by creating a targeted development program for member growth and success,” said Anders Larsson. “The path is different for each of you.”
He mentions a national member association mentorship program and from July a new director of development will work in the IIHF office, promotional campaigns will be established and a new concept of women’s hockey including a new brand and new competition structure will be discussed to provide more opportunities for the women’s game. . “Don’t do the same as in the men’s game, but do it differently and maybe even better.”
3 on 3 ice hockey as practiced at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games should be established as a new discipline and a new brand of ice hockey. “With countries competing 3-on-3 internationally and maybe even at the Olympics one day,” Larsson added.
The session was not just a presentation of survey results and plans. It was as much about member interaction and engagement before moving forward with an action plan. Most of the 82 member national associations were represented by delegates either on site in Tampere or in some cases via video conference and had the opportunity to discuss the results and the development of the strategy in various round table groups with the members of the IIHF Council.
“We could survive continuing as we have. But we will be a stronger sport and organization if we tackle these initiatives which are the right priorities right now,” said Henrik Bach Nielsen.
“It’s just the beginning. There’s a lot of work to do, let’s get on the ice!