Hockey is still a very young sport in Togo. But, under the impetus of the Togolese Hockey Federation – currently chaired by Luc Kouassi Dofontien and created only 15 years ago – which has bet on Hockey5s and training at school, the craze for hockey is experiencing an unprecedented boom. Interview with the National Technical Director, Komla Mawuena Gamisso.
What is the importance of Hockey5s for the development of hockey in Togo?
Komla Mawuena Gamisso: In our country, we don’t have the right infrastructure to fully develop 11-a-side hockey. We are not reaching the level we want. Therefore, we have opted for an increased development of Hockey5s, which is more in line with the means at our disposal, both material and human.
Since 2016, we have been organizing a national championship of Hockey5s, women and men.
You’ve grown exponentially in recent years. How can you grow further?
The implementation of hockey in schools is our priority. That’s why we’ve grown in recent years. I myself am a teacher of Physical Education and Sports and I have good contacts with other schools. It helped us. Today, we are organising a U-14 school championship and we have launched training centres within the schools. Moreover, the clubs are located near schools.
In 2018, we organized the first school championship of Hockey5s, women and men, with the participation of 8 schools in Lomé.
Can you give us some figures illustrating this growth?
In 2008, when the Togolese Hockey Federation was created, the overall participation stood at about 120 players. Today, we have nearly 900 licensed players and about 600 non-licensed student players in the various schools.
Did hockey develop outside the capital, Lomé?
Absolutely, and this was a very clear desire of the Federation in its development policy from the outset. In 2008, there were only 5 clubs, all based in Lomé. 10 years later, 7 new clubs were created. Today, we have 13 clubs, which cover the entire Togolese territory.
Another important area of development is the training of coaches.
That’s right! In order to grow, we have invested in the training of coaches. This is essential. To this end, the Togolese Hockey Federation has obtained the valuable support of the International Hockey Federation and the African Hockey Federation, as well as Olympic Solidarity. In addition, we have completed training courses in Ghana. All of this has contributed significantly to the increase in the number of participants.
What infrastructure do you have and how do you manage to get the necessary equipment?
There is no field specifically dedicated to hockey in Togo. We use synthetic football pitches for matches. Sometimes clay or cement courts, such as handball courts.
As for the equipment, it’s a challenge. We received sticks in Accra, Ghana. There have also been collections in Europe, but the transport to Togo is problematic. We also lack the equipment for goalkeepers. And sometimes we have to play with tennis balls.
What are your next goals?
Participating in international competitions is a major goal! This is important for our development and also to receive support from the state. A few years ago, we took part in Hockey5s tournaments in Accra as part of the FIH’s Targeted Assistance Programme (TAP).
We also need to develop our resources. A hockey field is essential to us. We are in talks with the authorities. For Hockey5s, there is already a plan in Lomé. One of our strengths is our geographical location, which would allow other countries to use this infrastructure as well.
How do you see the future of hockey in Togo?
I’m optimistic! After football, it will be hockey in Togo! That’s my motto. People here say, “Hockey is football with sticks.”