Background to the formation of Inline Hockey Australia
By Paula Maclou, Chairman ILHA, November 2008
On 12 November 2006 Skate Australia and the Australian Inline Hockey Association (AILHA) signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding for the merged Inline Hockey Australia (ILHA) entity, which will govern the sport of inline hockey under the Skate Australia umbrella into the future.
Skate Australia is a non for profit National Sporting Organisation recognised by the Australian Sports Commission as the peak body for roller skating sports in Australia. Skate Australia has had 35 years experience in organising Roller Sports in all its forms at both State and National level. Its structure and organisation provides for best member protection with credible and effective policies, procedures, contracts, accreditations and merit based selections.
Skate Australia has been active internationally for some 30 years and has developed close, cooperative and collaborative ties with key sporting bodies providing its members with opportunities to be selected to compete at an international level. It is the only Australian organisation affiliated with FIRS.
Inline Hockey is a 14-year-old sport discipline of the International Federation of Roller Sports (FIRS), founded in 1925 in Montreux, Switzerland. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognises FIRS as the International Federation for all roller sports. ‘Roller’ hockey, under FIRS, was a Demonstration Sport in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
Inline Hockey was introduced to the World Games for the first time in July 2005, an IOC sanctioned multi-sport event under the jurisdiction of the International World Games Association (IWGA) an affiliate of the General Association for International Sports Federations (GAISF) recognises FIRS as the governing International Federation for roller sports, encompassing the sport discipline of Inline Hockey. FIRS roller sports disciplines have been part of the World Games since the first Games were organised in 1979 at Santa Clara, California.
AILHA was formed by a group of hockey parents in the early 1990’s and quickly grew to hold national championships annually with associations in all States and ACT, except Western Australia. AILHA selected teams from their championships and sent them to international competitions in both Canada and the USA initially for Junior Men however this was expanded to field teams whose ages ranged from 12 years to Senior Men and Women.
Run by a strong parent and player body AILHA enjoyed a high profile in Australia for many years. AILHA’s rules and regulations were primarily influenced by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Talks of a merge started back in 1999 and an article in December of that year written in the magazine ‘Planet Hockey’ reads: “There has never been a better time to merge the two organisations. Look at the facts, RSA has government support and strong grass roots programs. AILHA has good international contacts and good elite tournaments. Together the two bodies are a perfect match, but when apart, the only thing we have to offer to sponsors and TV producers is the sport itself, which is unfortunately not enough.” “We have to form one governing body for Inline Hockey. It’s the only way to go.” [Jon Moses, Planet Hockey December 1999]
After many stop start discussions with elected Executive Committees from both organisations the puck finally dropped in 2006 when the protracted talks became serious, complex and heated but were properly regulated via a joint Steering Committee with the final outcome seeing the birth of ILHA.
Two years on the future looks bright for ILHA with 2 very successful national championships under its belt. The 2008 championships saw 46 teams from six States participating in a packed 136 game competition held over 8 days culminating in the Senior Men’s Grand Final being filmed by FOX SPORT for televising to Australian audiences in November 2008.
Inline Hockey is an exciting fast spectator sport being run in Australia by passionate volunteers to benefit all ILHA members.