The idea of formalising and organising competitive Masters hockey was initially promoted under the guidance of the great Australian Mr Ted Jones. His vision and organisational drive resulted in the first Masters tournament being held in Perth, Australia in 1981.
The first participating nations were Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. The many tournaments which followed were held under the title of ‘Pac Rim Tournaments’ reflecting the geographical location of the pioneer Masters Hockey nations. These tournaments became ever more popular and were taken seriously by all participants. At the same time, the Australians sent Grand Masters teams [60+] to tour Europe and this led to the foundation of the WGMA. In 2001, following an invitation to participate, the England 50+ were the first non-Pacific Rim country to play in the tournaments. Such was the success of this first venture by a European team that other non-Pacific Rim countries became keen to join in.
The tournaments were held every year consecutively, through until 2007 when an agreement was made to restrict tournaments to two-year cycles. Over the 26 years of its existence, the increasing number of participating teams forced the organisation to adapt and change to meet the more global nature of Masters Hockey. A lot of recognition for this development must go to Ted who served as Hon. Secretary for the first 25 years. He stood down at the 2006 Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Korea and was formally recognised as the first IMHA Life Member.
Sadly Ted passed away on Friday 9th September 2016. Little did he know that in 1943, when he held his first hockey stick that his involvement in hockey would continue for more than 60 years. Apart from playing hockey up until the 1980’s, Ted always exhibited a strong desire to develop the sport of hockey at all levels. He managed his first representative team in the NSW State Championships in 1949. From then until 1978 Ted served as a NSW State badged umpire, a NSW State Secretary, a Tournament Director at State and International level and as an ABC TV hockey commentator.
He directed the establishment of the inaugural National Championships in Perth in 1980 and the first Veterans International series between Australia and Malaysia in 1981. He continued to be at the forefront of Masters’ Hockey growth for the next 25 Years. Australian Masters hockey has grown to 9 divisions and nearly 80 teams. Similarly, International Masters has also grown from the original PacRim countries to circa 30 affiliated members nations of the IMHA and WGMA and over 150 competing Masters’ teams.
Ted was unable to travel to the first two Masters World Cups to be held on Australian soil in 2016, but his last wishes for masters hockey were “Good Hockey and Great Fellowship”. As a token of their gratitude for his lifetime contribution to hockey, Australian Masters Hockey will name the championship trophy for the inaugural 75+ Australian championships the “Ted Jones Memorial Shield”.
Ted’s replacement was Mr Neil Greene from New Zealand. Neil continued the expansion of the IMHA.
The hosting of the early tournaments was done on a rotational basis to encourage participation and provide opportunities for extending the membership of the Association. The 1995 Tournament was held in Vancouver Canada, but unfortunately it wasn’t until 2016 that Canadian teams once more participated in an IMHA event. One of the notable developments from Vancouver was the first Women’s Masters Hockey competition. The growing participation of Women’s Masters teams in IMHA competitions resulted in female Officials being elected to the IMHA Board at the Congress in Canterbury in 2012.
The 2007 tournament in Birmingham England, was the first to be held outwith the Pacific Rim. A new constitution was adopted there and formal recognition by FIH was sought. The formation of the present IMHA and the new constitution also saw the election of a new Board to oversee and administer future developments. President Ben Rea and Treasurer David Peebles began discussions with FIH to formalise the relationship, and at the FIH 2008 Congress held in Los Angeles, formal recognition for IMHA was received.
Since that time much work has been done to establish rules, tournaments hosting guidelines, relationships with key officials, links with international hockey administrators and further development of Men and Women’s Masters Hockey.
The first tournament held under the new administration was hosted by Hong Kong and it was the largest tournament held up to that date. However, the 2014 IMHA World Cup in Rotterdam was even larger with 70+ teams involved. This tournament was also part of a record breaking initiative to hold FIH, IMHA and WGMA World Cups in one country, all at the same time.
Ben Rea stepped down as President at the 2014 Rotterdam Congress. IMHA members owe him a great deal as he worked hard and sacrificed a large amount of his time and energies to negotiate IMHA’s route to the top table of World Hockey. It wasn’t always plain sailing but there is no doubting his immense contribution to the organisation over these 7 years. Ben received a plaque from the FIH for his services to Masters Hockey. He now contributes to the development of the WGMA.
Glenn Paton was elected as Treasurer at the 2012 Congress in Canterbury and elected President in Rotterdam in 2014. He set his sights on modernising the organisation, making it more open and increasing its democratic credentials. Since then, working closely with the Board of Directors, the number of IMHA member countries and teams has increased by more than 20%. He was re-elected at the 2016 Congress in Canberra.
David Peebles, Peri Buckley and John Stuart stepped down from the Board in Canberra. David, as a former Treasurer and Board Member, made important contributions to the organisation and the FIH. He was instrumental in bringing the 2016 World Cup to Canberra. Peri has been the inspiration behind the development of IMHA tournament rules and regulations courtesy of her vast experience in Olympic and FIH World Cup tournaments. The loss of her skills and knowledge was a worry, but Dr. Jeff Brown, her Kiwi replacement is proving to be every bit as able and the Technical Committee remains in good hands. John Stuart helped develop the 4 Nations Masters tournaments, managed several English Masters sides over the years and was the organiser of the very first IMHA World Cup in 2012 in the beautiful city of Canterbury and the Birmingham event in 2007. His contribution to Masters Hockey over the years is much appreciated.
The present IMHA Board consists of 9 elected officials from Argentina, Australia, Deutschland, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA. They are always busy organising and planning for the next IMHA tournament. The first ever Masters Indoor Hockey World Cup was held in Krefeld, Germany in February 2017, followed by the European Championships in Tilburg, Netherlands in August 2017; and preparations for the 2018 World Cup in Terrassa, Spain are at a very advanced stage with 131 teams from 31 countries taking part. There will probably never be another tournament as big as this because it would be almost unmanageable. However, this will be a decision for the Board of the World Masters Hockey (WMH) which takes over from the IMHA and WGMA in 2019. In the meantime the work continues with plans for developing more commercial links and the 2019 Indoor World Cup in Hong Kong.
Over the last two years Glenn and the Board have been working alongside officers from the FIH and WGMA to establish the WMH. The joint working parties which have been set up will help shape the direction in which the new Masters Hockey organisation will travel.