The university has previously worked with individual hockey associations, but decided a single MoU would be a better way to work with the sport overall. The associations covered by the MoU are Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Tauranga, Counties Manukau and Thames Valley.
Combining elite sport with academic learning
The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Alister Jones says talented sports people are often forced to choose between elite sport and academic learning, but both are possible if athletes are managed well, supported by their sporting body and their place of study.
Elite hockey players who choose to study at Waikato University would be awarded Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarships to enable them to take a dual pathway of sport and learning, and at the same time undergo training for leadership and personal development.
“By working in tandem we can encourage and monitor student progress, adjust programmes to fit around major competitions and generally ensure students are able to manage what can sometimes be substantial workloads,” says Professor Jones.
“We want to keep our promising sports men and women in the region and also attract people from outside the region to base themselves in the Waikato.”
Students on the programme have their course fees paid throughout their study, so long as they meet an agreed criteria, and Midlands Hockey provides coaching and skills development supporting students’ participation in regional, national and international competitions.
Relationship to help the transition of athletes to university life
Simon Brill, High Performance Director at Midlands Hockey says the MoU builds on earlier agreements that included Waikato, Tauranga and Bay of Plenty Hockey associations. He anticipates that the relationship will ease the transition of athletes into their university lives.
“It provides the best support of their development as individuals throughout their education and alongside elite hockey programmes. These are students who are talented in multiple areas of their lives and we endeavour to help them achieve the highest success in both,” says Mr Brill.
Being an obvious attractor for athletes local to the region but inclusive of athletes from wider New Zealand is of huge benefit, he says. “This is a fantastic programme provided by the University of Waikato and Midlands are excited to be a part of it.”