Great Britain Head Coach Pete Russell has been appointed to a lead role in the English Ice Hockey Association’s (EIHA) Coach and Education Programme.

It’s a new role that is intended to help shift the EIHA towards an athlete-centred development programme by creating a best-in-class education and coaching system to support improvements at all levels of coaching.

Russell, who has recently taken up the role of head coach of DEL2 side Ravensburg Towerstars, is the most successful coach in GB history.

The former netminder has won 11 medals as Great Britain coach at junior and full international level and was instrumental in leading GB to the elite level of world ice hockey.

Russell said: “Our sport is suffering right now but we have seen such fantastic results in our national team and more recently with the news about Liam (Kirk).

“I want us to all come together and build on what we have. We need to get the best from what we have, both players and coaches. We all need to collaborate and share our knowledge, so that we see major change in our players and their abilities.

“I believe I can make a difference and want to work in collaboration with anyone who wants to help bring the change in culture and performance. I am excited to be taking on this new role with the EIHA and working alongside Gary (Apsley) and the team of dedicated senior coaches. I think it will be hard work to get things re-started but it’s also very exciting too.”

Ice Hockey UK Chair, Clifton Wrottesley, said: “It is great to see the EIHA is putting in place someone with undeniable knowledge and experience, who can help bring about change in the grassroots, youth, junior and senior coaching for all ice hockey participants.

“I’m particularly impressed with the aim of maximising performances of coaches and athletes from grassroots to major championships. I am completely behind this crucial new role and look forward to seeing the coming together of programmes, not just within the EIHA, but also with Ice Hockey UK, providing a clearly identifiable link all the way through from grassroots to elite.”

EIHA Chair Mohammed Ashraff appointed Russell as GB Head Coach when he was in the same role with Ice Hockey UK.

The EIHA Director responsible for Coaching and Education, Gary Apsley, identified a need to join-up the two sections with a suitably experienced and credible leader for the newly-created post of National Coaching and Game Development Executive.

This role has four key strategic aims and requirements…

– To promote the sport and development of ice hockey for all participants within the English Ice Hockey Association.
– To create a high-performing coaching system that will establish a network of inspired and inspirational ice hockey coaches at all levels.
– This network will aim to maximise performances of coaches and athletes from grassroots to the podium.
– To act as the senior lead for the area of coaching and coach development and in conjunction with the section Head’s, be responsible for establishing and implementing coaching elements of the EIHA Coach and Player Development strategic plan.

Apsley said: “The single biggest and immediate priority for the association is to re-engage with the volunteer coaches and educators within the association and re-establish the delivery of high-quality programmes that underpin and support the re-starting of our sport at all levels post the covid-19 pandemic.

“This role is pivotal to the success of that restart and with Pete’s profile we hope that he will unite the game and inspire all its participants at every level. I am thrilled he is able to join us and I am delighted that Clifton Wrottesley helped clear the way for Pete to help us.

“Coming into the role that oversees EIHA coaching and education and as a former coach, I could see that we had two sections that were not joined-up. It was evident to the most senior coaches that we needed a new direction of travel and a plan that was going to deliver real improvements in our coaching which is what everyone wants to see.

“Any plan with such ambitions needs a strong leader with the battle scars of experience and achievement to demonstrate the capability to get the plan delivered. Pete Russell has no equal in British ice hockey and there is nobody more relevant to what we need than him.”

Russell has already started in the new role and will be making some announcements concerning some major new initiatives before the 2021-22 seasons starts.

Photo credit: Dean Woolley.