Teams are looking for talented players and have university scholarships to offer
What would you say if we told you that right now, coaches across the globe are waiting for you to play for their teams in other countries? What if we added that there are opportunities for amazing scholarships to help you get there? Sounds like a pretty awesome deal. Surprisingly, some of the most successful coaches continue to struggle immensely in finding players to come play abroad. Let’s meet Ricky Lee, a recognized coach who lead the women’s hockey team at Ulster University in Ireland, and hear about his past experiences with coaching and connecting with athletes from outside of the country.
Hockey has always been an important part of Lee’s life. He tells us that he coached for the Ulster Hockey Club for 15 seasons, earning multiple awards for his success in the club, then going on to work as a sports developer and hockey development officer at Ulster University for four years.
Why teams are looking to recruit field hockey athletes from all across the world
In 2009, Ulster began a scholarship program to bring players from other countries to play hockey to Ireland to compete for the university. Lee notes that,
Since then Ulster has recruited two to three players a year. We have had athletes from India, France, Germany, New Zealand, Canada, America and South Africa…it improved the level of the team and the entire club.
Ulster’s scholarship athletes receive onsite accommodation, an outstanding education, and pay. They even have a youth club where many athletes work as coaches and pick up extra cash, along with an amazing coaching experience.
Lee embodies a coach who not only recognized the value of foreign players, but sought them out to enrich his team, telling us that,
When you bring in someone who is used to playing international hockey, they bring the experience, their training, and it helps take the entire team to the next level.
Why as an athlete you should try playing in a different country
The success of his team showed when the University of Ulster’s women’s hockey team traveled to Prague and won the European Club Championship Challenge in May of 2016! And the opportunities for abroad experience aren’t just one-sided; players from Ireland are playing abroad and are bringing home invaluable skills. Lee states,
There’s a lot of international men now that play abroad, and when you got the like of David Hart who’s playing in Holland and picking up the experience there instead of that in Ireland…and then in the Indian hockey League…and then in the European Hockey League. That’s a different caliber than the domestic hockey here and it’s helped the National Team.
No matter what level of play, abroad experience enhances the success of a competitor and his or her team.
The problem teams recruiting internationally are encountering now
When the Uru Team asked Lee what the biggest problem he encountered as a coach while working with Ulster University, he pointed to the recruitment process, asking, “How do you get an ad out to the rest of the world and find the right people?” He tried multiple tactics to find athletes who would come play for him in Ireland, first by sending e-flyers to clubs and coaches, which ended with no positive outcome as it rarely landed in the actual player’s mailboxes.
Then, Ulster utilized the university network in America and Canada, as well as old-fashioned Facebook stalking, which gave Lee a bit of success. However, this process was extremely inefficient, taking Lee and other coaches an awful amount of time. Lee claims that the problem resides in that,
There is no platform, message board, or social network out there just for players that’s the same in every country.
Lee isn’t the only one who thinks this is the issue. Professional coaches and athletes from around the world all recognize the need for a platform by which players can seek out opportunities abroad, and coaches can seek out players who will augment their teams.
Introducing Uru Sports – The dynamic platform for competing and recruiting
In comes Uru Sports. The lack of a forum that Lee and other athletics recognize as a barrier to expanding abroad opportunities is the problem Uru Sports is here to reconcile. You want the experience playing in another country. Coaches want you on their teams. The only thing you need to do is sign up with Uru and you’ll gain access to multiple abroad opportunities and find more information on programs like Ulster University in Ireland.
Field hockey can take you anywhere. It’s time to realize and utilize your potential.
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Lastly, a huge thanks to Ricky Lee for taking the time to talk to us about recruiting international talent. We’re extremely grateful for all the athletes and coaches like you who’ve gotten behind our mission here at Uru Sports and have shared insight on sports around the world.
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