|Sally Munday - CEO, England Hockey|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 27 July 2015 08:12
Sally has been working in hockey since 1998 and is England Hockey's Chief Executive having previously been England Hockey Development Director and, prior to that, Regional Development Manager in the South
You’ve been the CEO for just over six years now, what changes have you overseen in that time, to the sport and the organisation?
It’s really important to say that the work I’ve done as CEO has only just continued on from the work that was led by Philip Kimberley who was the executive chairman before I became CEO and because I was involved before as development director as well, when I became CEO it wasn’t about making big changes, it was more about continuing on the journey that we were on.
But there have been some notable things that I’ve been proud of over the last few years, which I think have been really good for the sport. The first thing is the success we’ve had in securing a number of major events, such as the Unibet EuroHockey Championships that we’re hosting in August back at Olympic Park.
There’s definitely an appetite for the British public to be watching live international hockey, we were the third biggest sport in terms of ticket numbers at the Olympics and we’re seeing that in the sales for the Euros next month, so we’re really proud of that.
We’ve secured a number of major sponsorship deals, investec being the most notable with the women, they’ve been an amazing sponsor and partner for us, helping us grow the profile of women’s hockey.
One of the things, on a personal level I’m particularly proud of, is the progress we’ve made in participation and you quite often hear in the media about where’s the legacy from the Olympic Games, in hockey we did a big engagement programme and as a result we had a fourth year in a row, where we’ve seen an increase in junior membership in our club and in the last four years since 2011 there’s been a total of a 40% rise of young people playing in our clubs.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced as a sport is getting the media and broadcast recognition that the sport should get. We’re in a group of sports who are probably at a level where at the moment we have to fight really hard to get broadcast coverage and broadcast coverage is so important in terms of driving the profile for the sport, which engages the people and encourages them to come and play and we saw on the back of the Olympic Games just how important that TV coverage was and we need to collectively, working with other similar sports, carry on applying more pressure to the media and to the broadcasters.
Particularly the publically funded broadcasters around the world, in our case the UK, to show more diversity of sport on their channels and its brilliant that we’ve got the BBC for the Euros this summer but we really want to up the ante on that, so that’s a really big challenge.
The other challenge is about diversifying our income, we rely heavily on government grants at the moment, we think that we’re spending the money really well, its seeing a real impact in the number of people playing, the number of medals we’re winning, the way we’re able to bring major events to this country, so we think we spend the lottery and exchequer money that we get very wisely, but being that reliant on government money is a challenge and it is something that we are changing.
Hockey was hugely popular in the London 2012 Olympics in terms of viewing figures, have you seen a growth in the development and popularity of the sport almost four years on?
We did a huge engagement programme at hockey around the Olympic Games, we knew that it was going to be a real one-off opportunity for us and we started planning our engagement programme, Hockey Nation, about five years out from the Games.
What we wanted to do was to really maximise the opportunity of a home Olympic Games and not only on the pitch, in terms of the performances, but actually engaging with our clubs, our coaches and volunteers and as a result we’ve seen this phenomenal increase of 40% of young people playing in our clubs.
We’re also seeing a growth in adult hockey, its slower, but it’s still real growth and we are seeing an increase in media attention, so we’re really positive about the impact the Olympic Games has had on our sport and how its enabled us to engage with a much wider audience of people that wouldn’t usually be exposed to the game.
What is the current level of grassroots hockey and what sort of focus and strategy do you place on this?
It’s a massive part of our work, we have between a third and half of our staff committed to developing grassroots hockey and for us that’s all about two really key things; the first is about growing participation and getting more people playing more frequently and the other key factor is around the infrastructure of the sport.
So investing time, money, resources and energy in growing the number of facilities, coaches and officials, supporting our amazing volunteer network that’s out there, we place a massive emphasis on that because that’s the future of the sport and so we invest time, money and energy in supporting that to help the sport grow, to ensure that it’s got a really sustainable future.
You have several partners, such as Investec and Unibet, how do you work with them and create a mutually beneficial relationship?
We’ve got a number of partnerships and Investec is the most significant of our partners, they’re highly experienced in sports sponsorship with the other programmes that they’re involved in with cricket and the Derby and previously rugby.
Our partnership we have with them and with some of our smaller partners, is all about trying to create a win-win situation, we really need to understand what it is that they want to get out of it, they need to understand from our perspective what we want to get out and a lot of people think that sponsorship is purely about money and whilst the money that Investec and others give us is really valuable to us and really helps us with doing things that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do, quite often our partners give us way more than just money in terms of how they activate the sponsorship and Investec are a great example of that.
The activation that they do around our partnership is amazing. For example, big billboards of our players up at train stations, putting our players all over London taxis, the work that they do in helping us to grow the profile of the sport and they recognise that we’re on a journey in terms of trying to develop the profile of the game and they want to be part of that. In finding partners, for us it’s all about making sure that you’re partnering with people who have mutual interests and objectives and you commit to working with them to achieve those objectives and it is much more than just money.