Frequently Asked Questions
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HSF connects coaches to partner organizations with the goal of affecting positive change in the lives of participants.
Hockey Without Borders (HSF) promotes the overall health and growth of children and youth through sport and physical activity. HSF uses sport to empower children and youth to develop into good citizens. HSF coaches create a safe and fun environment through which they seek to use sport, with a focus on hockey, for mental, physical, social, emotional learning and development.
HSF also believes in supporting and enriching the lives of the volunteers that we connect with partner communities. We support their development as global citizens. Our coaches experience intercultural learning which develops knowledge, leadership, communication techniques, and life skills that are integral to becoming active and engaged citizens.
The HSF approach empowers participants to work together to become better teammates and leaders. In collaboration with local partners, HSF assesses a community’s needs and aspirations to build a framework to meet short and long-term objectives. HSF coaches support the implementation of the framework during their stay.
How do I know this program is right for me?
Do you love the game? Do you want to travel and coach hockey and help develop hockey in another country? Do you want to learn from another dynamic sporting nation? If you answered yes to these questions, then this program will be right for you.
What does the HSF look for in their applicants?
We are looking for energetic coaches who want a valuable international experience. This is the most comprehensive coaching training program available. We want coaches who are ready to learn, be respectful of different cultures and be able to have fun. These coaches will be immersed in an all-encompassing sport, educational and cultural environment.
What expenses is an HSF coach responsible for?
All HSF coaches are volunteers. The primary expenses include a round-trip flight and health/travel insurance.
What expenses are covered?
The host club provides room and board for the duration of one’s stay.
What is the duration of an HSF Season Placement? What countries does HSF have partner clubs?
HSF Season Placement’s range from 3-6 months.
Season long overseas placements are are in: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Bulgaria, and India.
What is the duration of an HSF Camp? What are possible camp locations?
A typical camp is 1-2 weeks.
Hungary, Czech Republic, Turkey, Mexico, and Slovenia.
Is this program available for female coaches as well?
Yes, the growth and development of the female game is as important, if not more important, than the men's game. The growth of the female game has been discussed at the highest levels of the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation). There is a real need to help other countries to further develop their female players to help combat some of the inequality at the highest levels of the game. Most clubs have a female team and would benefit greatly from female hockey players and coaches willing to share their knowledge and love for the game with a generation of young female hockey players.
How far in advance do I need to apply?
HSF accepts and reviews applicants year-round.
How will this experience benefit my future?
There is no other hands on program like it. Living the HSF experience is one of the most rewarding and enriching undertakings you will have in your life. It will help build character, communication skills, cultural awareness and adaptability. It will also provide you with a global perspective on life. These traits are valuable and applicable no matter where life takes you. Coaches returning home have moved on to jobs in the hockey world because of this unique hand on experience. Two HSF alumni, Yul Hennelly and Kevin Auerbach, were accepted to the prestigious Sport Academy Masters program in Vierumaki Finland. Zack Jackson took over the coordinator job for the Nashville Predators junior hockey program and Murray Cobb is the program director for the Winnipeg Junior Jets True North Foundation. Matt Robins in a college assistant coach in Montreal. Daniel Jacob is on the coaching staff with the Boisbriand-Blainville Armada in the LHJMQ. Marc fournier is the pro stick rep with Bauer. Marc McLean is now a linesmen in the CHL and the AHL.
What is a typical weekday and/or weekend for a program participant?
9:00 – 10:00 Morning practice with various age groups
10:00 – 11:30 Coaches meeting and practice planning
11:30 – 16:00 Lunch Break
16:00 - 17:00 Learn to Skate Program
17:00 - 18:00 U6, U8, U18 Practice
18:00 - 20:30 Dinner Break
20:30 - 9:30 U12, U14, U16 Practice
9:30 - 11:00 Amateur Men’s Practice
Coaching kids games/tournaments
Excursions in the region with teams
Traditional Sunday lunches with local families
Holiday celebrations or events with teammates
Do program itineraries ever change?
Yes, the program itineraries are only a sample. Clubs run their skating programs, youth club times and club practices at different times, that is just to give a basic breakdown of the amount of activities you will be undertaking on a daily basis.
Can pals or Parent’s visit me? If parents or relatives are interested in visiting you, that is their choice. Your schedule will remain the same (coaching, playing and practices) but you will be able to show them around town in your free time and they can join in on the fun meeting your teammates and kids you coach.
Can I go home for the holidays around new years?
This time of the season does allow for some down time but not enough to head home. In the past HSF coaches have gone to nearby cities ( budapest or Prague or Vienna) or gone off to visit other HSF coaches in the area. Going all the way home is not an option for HSF coaches mid season. It is the best time to connect with local families and see the cultural traditions that might be different than back at home.
What are the Political, Social, and Economic Conditions like in the host country?
Host country information will be provided in your departure package focused on the country that you will be heading to. We do a good job of getting to know each communities situations and take pride in finding appropriate host clubs.
What do general everyday things cost? (Bread, Hamburger, T-shirts, Socks, etc.)
Prices change from country to country. If you are coaching in Eastern Europe the cost of living and basic expenses are much lower than if you are in a Western European country. Once again, in your departure package, country specific information about your host country will be provided in detail. A beer in the store costs less than .50 cents. At the pub Beers are about 1 Euro.
What is public transit like? (i.e. Bus to get around town)
Cities have well established public transit networks, larger cities have more elaborate and extensive systems, but you will have no problem becoming familiar with the city in your host country. You will have local teammates that will be happy to help. This is very reasonably priced way to get around. Also taxis are much less expensive than in North America..
What will I do if there's a problem during my stay?
Each coach will have a mentor who has lived this experience before. HSF maintains very good contact with our coaches and partner clubs. These mentors are there for the coach to ask questions to at any time. The mentor will be introduced to the coach before he/she leaves for the placement and will remain in touch through the time on the ground. If you have a problem during your stay you will always be able to talk to your in-country contacts, which in most cases will be the head coach of the men’s team with whom you will already have a working relationship.
Will I learn any local language or expressions?
Yes, this is very important in preparing before the coach goes abroad. The local coaches/players help in this regard. Learn the basics before you go, improve your vocabulary the first month. This will really help with your experience.
Is my ability good enough to coach in these areas?
Your existing knowledge, passion and ability in the game will go a long way in many of the host countries. HSF tries to match coaches with the proper league and ability level. As a coach, HSF requires each participant to attain the a ‘level one’ coaching certificate at minimum. We have had NHL coaches apply with LEVEL 5 certification and we have had young eager coaches apply with level one. We are looking for good people who are excited to live and learn from the experience.
Can I find new sticks, Tape, Laces, Etc.
The teams generally do not have the resources to provide any of these items. From time to time they will help provide tape and laces when needed but we recommend that you pack a little extra to ensure you are covered.
What are the arenas like?
Many countries have made significant investments in the development and growth of their ice hockey programs and have very nice facilities. Of course, keep in mind that the focus on hockey in these countries is not the same as Canada, so some facilities might not be the newest, but others are nicer than many old rinks in Canada.
What is the level of competition?
The level changes from country to country. Some leagues are equal to a strong junior level while others can be of lower quality.
Do the coaches speak English?
Many of the local coaches speak English to a varying degree and most are functionally fluent in English.
How much interaction with the head coaches?
You will have extensive interaction with the host club head coach. In addition, you can develop your ideas for skating and hockey lessons, practice preparation and further program development.
Is there an orientation or some form of guidance before I arrive with my host club?
Yes, you will be provided with a package that lays out all your contact information in the country. You will have a chance to talk with former HSF alumni who have lived the experience along with the founding members of HSF.
How do you ensure that the community benefits from a short-term international volunteer?
You will be teaching kids skating, hockey and leadership skills, something they will keep with them for their entire lives. Your impact on the youth program and the growth of the game of hockey in this county will be significant. Most of all, this time as a volunteer coach will make a significant impression on your own life if you are open enough to take in the cultural aspects of living in such places. Many of our coaches have gone back to the communities where they lived. We encourage this re engagement season after season.
Do I need a passport to travel around the region?
Yes, you will need a passport for travel to the host country and for regional travel. It is always important to hold on to this document and ensure it is up-to-date. Make 2 photocopies.
Do I have to buy a visa for any countries?
This depends from country to country. All the required living documentation and visa requirements will be sorted by your host club on their end. You will have all information prior to departure.
Will there be time to travel when I'm volunteering abroad?
Past coaches have travelled either before or after their placement. The program is extensive and there is a lot of travel with the team you are playing with and the youth program that you will be coaching. Some past coaches have arrived a few weeks early - dropped off their gear and hit the road. Others have left their stuff with the host club and taken off for travel after the season has ended in Spring time.
Extra costs for trip not associated with Team travel?
Team related travel is covered by the club. If you find the time to travel, those costs will be personal.
What type of insurance do I need?
Regular travel insurance when you are not with the club or at the rink. The host club insures you for your time on the ice and at the rink.
What will I need to pack?
Most of the countries you will be arriving in are in their winter season, so keep in mind that it will be cold. We suggest packing as if you were going for an extended skiing vacation, or living in a climate where the average temperatures do not fall below -5 degrees Celsius. The winters are short and mild compared to Canada thankfully. There can be some days that dip down. Over all anything that needs to be bought can be done in the host country as to keep your bags light.
Required Documents and actions for Candidate Coaches….
1- Completed Application
2- Follow up round of Questions/ references contacted
3- Phone conversation with HSF alumni
4- Police record check.
5- Confirmation and contract signing
6- Contact with host club.
7- Make travel plans
8- Passport check
9- Level 1 coaching certification at minimum
10 - Pre- departure preparation