Launched in September 2017, the purpose of the Great Britain Elite Development Programme (EDP) is to provide players who have the potential to become medal-winning Olympians of the future the best possible opportunity to achieve their international hockey ambitions.
As with the senior international programmes, the GB EDP is coordinated by England Hockey on behalf of all the Home Nations. This work forms part of the Great Britain Framework that exists between England Hockey, Scottish Hockey and Hockey Wales.
The programme is funded by UK Sport and the National Lottery as part of their World Class Programme.
The GB EDP sits within the Performance Development segment of the Great Britain and England Player Development model. The Performance Development stage is about keeping the potential international athlete of the future in mind. It is about motivating and inspiring them in a hockey context.
The aim is to provide high-quality experiences that provide satisfaction through accomplishment. At this level, players will also have a clearer line of sight to senior international hockey through U21, other age group competitive opportunities and potentially early exposure to senior international hockey itself, further igniting their interest and aspirations. While players are unlikely to be full-time hockey players with most studying at university, they will be making lifestyle decisions to support their hockey.
- Identify and select the most talented future senior internationals with the potential to perform at the world’s best level
- Implement a programme that enables players to maximise their potential and that supports the development of the skills, physicality and character required to become a medal winning Olympian in the future
- Deliver junior international teams that excel at U21 and non-U21 level (Junior European Championships, Junior World Cups and non-U21 competitions)
The GB EDP runs on an annual cycle from January to December each year.
A formal assessment phase is conducted in the autumn each year for current members of the programme and athletes nominated by a Home Nation, GB EDP Head Coach or English/Scottish National League club.
Ad hoc assessment opportunities may be conducted at additional times. Any ad hoc assessment phase will be agreed between the GB Head of Elite Talent Development and the relevant GB EDP head coach and will be communicated clearly in advance to any athlete involved as well as those athletes currently involved in the programme.
Full details of the selection criteria and process can be found here.
The GB EDP is typically delivered through two-day training camps every two weeks which are normally at Bisham Abbey, Loughborough or Lilleshall. Club facilities at different locations around the county are often used for single day sessions and the programme visits Glasgow and Cardiff periodically too.
During the winter and spring there are approximately two training contact days each fortnight, with most competition provided through England Hockey National Leagues and BUCS matches. GB EDP delivery switches to an international competitive focus between May and August.
The men's and women's programmes both have dedicated full-time head coaches who lead a team of assistant coaches including a specialist goalkeeping coach, and performance support practitioners.
Coaches and support staff work with players at camps and link with athletes’ coaches & support staff in their daily training environment to ensure their whole hockey development is joined up. Performance support services include physiotherapy, strength and conditioning, nutrition, performance analysis and psychology.
The GB EDP regularly integrates with the senior GB teams through training sessions and practice matches. On some occasions, GB EDP players are invited to spend time with the senior programme which can include opportunities to represent England or Great Britain in international senior matches.
International competition, preparation & exposure is a critical element of the programme. Competitive development opportunities come through a mix of Home Nations U21 international competitions as well as opportunities to represent Great Britain U21/U23 through series against other nations and events such as the Sultan of Johor Cup.
Although not part of GB EDP, most Welsh & Scottish members are also part of the Welsh and Scottish senior teams respectively.
Since its inception in 2017, several players have gone on to earn places in the senior programmes.
2018 - Tess Howard, Rhys Smith, Zach Wallace, Jack Waller (all England)
Having helped the GB U21 squad to a silver medal at the 2017 Sultan of Johor Cup, Jack Waller and Zach Wallace made their senior debuts in October 2018 against Belgium at the Seoul Anniversary Internationals in London. They were joined by Rhys Smith, who also won a silver at the 2015 Sultan of Johor Cup and played for England's U21s at the 2016 Junior World Cup.
In November 2018, Tess Howard was selected for the GB team who took part in that year's Champions Trophy. She made her debut in the opening game against China and featured in every match, scoring her first senior international goal in just her third appearance against Japan.
2019 - Charlotte Watson (Scotland), Jacob Draper (Wales), Tom Sorsby, Izzy Petter, Esme Burge (all England)
Having proved their potential on the senior international stage with Scotland and Wales respectively, Charlotte Watson and Jacob Draper were both called into the GB squads during 2019 and went on to help the nation qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Watson made her debut against Japan in Hiroshima and scored her senior first goal for GB against India while Draper made his bow against Spain.
They followed Tom Sorsby, Izzy Petter and Esme Burge in transitioning from the GB EDP into the senior set ups, the trio all making their debuts in the 2019 FIH Hockey Pro League. Petter scored her first senior international goal against Germany in her fourth match, having been assisted by Burge who was playing in her second.
In addition, GB EDP members Holly Hunt and Alex Malzer (both England) also made their senior international debuts for GB's women during 2019. Josh Pavis and Peter Scott (both England) also received maiden call-ups.
2020 - Ollie Payne, Fiona Crackles (both England)
A highly rated goalkeeper and two-time winner of the Sultan of Johor Cup with GB's U21s, Ollie Payne was offered a place in the senior men's programme in September 2020 and made his international debut against The Netherlands in the FIH Hockey Pro League just a few weeks later.
Fiona Crackles also made her senior bow that day for the women's team and, despite her young age, showed impressive maturity against both the Dutch and Belgium and was rewarded by being offered a full-time place on the programme in January 2021.
In addition, Sophie Hamilton also played her first senior matches for GB against The Netherlands and Belgium with Holly Hunt also featuring on one occasion. Miriam Pritchard (England) and Emily Dark (Scotland) also received call-ups.
As a UK Sport funded sport, a number of Athlete Performance Awards (APAs) are allocated to hockey. The APA is a National Lottery grant awarded to certain athletes in support of their progression towards medal success at the Olympic Games. The APA is designed to enable athletes to engage fully with the programme and meet the necessary training and competition demands associated with progression towards the Olympic podium. The APA grant contributes towards the living and sporting costs that athletes incur whilst being a member of the Programme.
GB Hockey has been allocated 40 awards per gender for the Tokyo Olympic cycle across the EDP and the senior centralised programme. The number of awards available to the GB EDP will fluctuate during an Olympic cycle dependent on the needs of the senior teams, performance and breadth/depth of ‘talent’. At certain points in the cycle, athlete numbers on the programme may be increased or reduced in order to best serve the performance needs at a particular time, subject to the absolute discretion of Great Britain and England Hockey.