THE NEW BEGINNING

Hockey 4 Development

Valentina Quaranta

I was born in Bra, a little town in Piedmont, north of Italy. Since I was a child I loved sports, each kind of sport. I liked to run, play football, basketball, and swim. One day, at school, a hockey coach came to teach us hockey. That day I think my life took one direction: I fell in love with hockey. At the age of 9 years old I held the hockey stick for the first time and since that time I haven’t left it.

 

For 15 years I played hockey while I was studying, from primary school till university. I played at local and at international level, I was also part of the Italian national side for ten years, starting from the junior team till the senior team. I always tried to combine hockey with study, making an effort to combine hard training with books and exams. I managed to graduate at the University with a Master Degree in Criminal Psychology. After graduation, I decided to leave Italy and to quit hockey to dedicate a period of my life to something different. I applied for a year of Civil Service, volunteering for one year in Tanzania for the Italian ngo COPE.

 

In 2011, I left for Tanzania, my life took another direction. I lived one year in a small village in the South of Tanzania far away from the big cities, I spent my experience teaching to small children and working with local teachers to improve teaching methodology for small children. The time spent there helped me to see things in another way, I grew a lot. At the end of my year, one week before going back to Italy, I went to Dar es Salaam, the main city in Tanzania. By chance I met hockey here in Tanzania. I was on the bus and suddenly I saw on one pitch nearby the street that there were people playing hockey! I jumped off the bus and went to meet them. After one year I was again in Tanzania, working again with COPE in Dar es Salaam as head office coordinator and I started to help revive the women hockey team by coaching the team and finding the money to support it.

 

In less than three month together with the local coaches, we built up the team and went to play for the first time ever the Africa Cup of Nations. In the following year, in 2014, a new women’s team composed of young women was built, hockey was introduced in schools and universities. Local players have been trained to be coaches for young players. Micro-entrepreneurship projects have been started-up by the women players to help them economically. When I started the first training with the girls, I had five balls and nothing else. Since the end of 2014 hockey in Tanzania is growing from the grassroots level, more and more people are getting involved in the development of hockey in this country. In the early days of 2015 the wish to create more sustainability in Tanzania came true. With help from abroad we organized a coaching course in January 2015 and I started a collaboration with devorted people in Holland (Ivo and Nick). That was the start of creating the foundation ‘TWENDE Hockey’. TWENDE Hockey helps the Tanzania hockey lovers in social and economic development for youth and youngsters by means of field hockey. With this foundation what was once a dream, is becoming a solid reality.

“Twende” is a word in Swahili and means “let’s go”! It ‘s an invitation to go, to move forward towards development through hockey. Let’s start this trip together with African players and coaches!

 

 

Cheers, Valentina