A Passion for Persistence – Interview with Irish U23 Ladies Hockey Team, Dr. David Passmore
David Passmore
David Passmore
Head Coach, Irish U23 Ladies Hockey Team and Chair of Sport Science and Health at DCU

Back in July Cantor Fitzgerald were delighted to sponsor the Junior Green Army, the Irish U23 Ladies Hockey team. The team took on The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Germany at the U23 5 Nations at Club Egara, Spain. The team put in some stellar performances and we’re very proud of their hard work.

Dr. David Passmore is the team’s Head Coach and the Chair of Sport Science & Health at Dublin City University. David joined DCU in 2012 following 13 years in elite sport working first with British and then Irish Hockey where he had coached at all levels achieving success at European (U21 Silver and U18 Gold) level.  Since 2008 David has served as the High-Performance Director of Irish Hockey whilst also overseeing the development of a new player development model and coach education system.

We sat down with David to learn more about him and the team.

  • Growing up, what were your ambitions from both a sporting and career perspective?

I grew up in London and as a young boy I loved all sports and wanted to be a professional at whatever I did. I played soccer, did a lot of skateboarding and later got into hockey.  I never really dreamed of playing at an Olympics or world cups but that soon kicked in when I turned to coaching at a young age after injuring my back.

  • You’ve been involved with Irish Hockey since 2012, what was it that first attracted you to the sport?

I first played indoor hockey with my sister at her school so started before I went to my own secondary school and excelled quite quickly and especially because I started with two years’ experience over my peers. Coaching was a natural progression after my playing career was cut short and I loved the game so much even though I didn’t understand it.  I was a teacher when I first started so that helped me in so many areas and I was fortunate enough to coach some very successful teams when I was young so my career catapulted very quickly at the start, and I was soon coaching junior England teams at an age when many would still be playing.

  • Between your work at DCU, being Head Coach for Ireland’s U21 hockey team, and a father of five, you are juggling a lot. What is a typical day like for you?

It was busy for many years and the demands of international sport are massive.  When I first moved to Ireland, the kids were young and I combined that with both the national men’s coaching role and the performance director position at Hockey Ireland, so that was tough then, but my wife was and is fantastic and coped well with the many days and weeks I was away from home.  Being in DCU now means I have to coach more in the evenings and at weekends which is busy, but the biggest burden is the travel as we live in County Limerick.  There is no such thing as a typical day but lots of early starts, time in the car and a diversity of roles each which I love and the combination means life is rarely dull.

  • Do you find it difficult to maintain work-life balance? How do you switch off and stop thinking about it all?

Yes, switching off would not be a strength of mine but I love my roles so much and I work at what I love so no one could ask for more than that.  I enjoy chilling at home, long walks, our garden and a spot of fishing. I love travelling, but my annual leave from DCU is taken up working with the national teams.

  • Do you find that your two positions, Chair of Sport Science and Hockey Coach, complement each other? Are there situations where you can apply your academic knowledge to coaching and vice versa?

Yes, there is a lot of synergy as I try to bring an evidence based and scientific approach to my coaching.  Being in a vibrant college with super colleagues mean I keep fully up to date on the sport advancements.

  • When you are working with a younger team, most of whom are in full-time education, it is difficult to get training sessions focused? How do you motivate them?

The players need little motivation from me, but I do ensure they enjoy what they do because the physical and time demands are great, and you have to love what you do especially when it can become very time consuming and requires difficult decisions (such as not going out regularly or away on holiday). 

  • How did the team handle the Covid-19 restrictions? Was it a frustrating time?

Covid lockdown was frustrating for all but very necessary restrictions all the same and we respected that.  The priority became ensuring the players’ wellbeing and confidence in themselves, so we focussed on lots of physical development through home workouts and some players made huge gains in that area.  The only part I found frustrating was the fact that other countries were allowed to continue to train and play.  I was concerned we would fall behind.  With the club season cancelled, it was important our players had a decent summer international season and the 19 matches we played, thanks to great sponsors like Cantor Fitzgerald, resulting in us catching up over the summer.

  • Do junior players typically stay with hockey for many years? Can you sometimes see players use the discipline that they achieve with sport in other areas of their lives?

Most players who play at this level will play into their early 30s.  International sport certainly helps prepare the players to aspects such as discipline, personal management, leadership and management skills and cognisant of the attention to detail needed in their professional lives, so we consciously help develop those skills too.

  • Did you have a favourite tournament this year? Any highlights?

There were many highlights this year such as beating the Great Britain team for the first time in a four-match series. They have 11 times more players to choose from and vast budgets comparatively.  The wins against the Wales and Scotland senior teams demonstrate the impact of the program in developing our players for senior hockey.

  • What’s next for the Junior Green Army? Will we see any of the players in the next Olympics?

We will now go into a block where the players will train and compete for senior squad places, as our team aims to qualify for the world cup next year. We hope ourselves to play in the junior world cup in December and have a European tournament next July in Vienna.

Contact details for each individual team member can be accessed here on our website should you wish to speak with a Portfolio Manager or Account Executive.

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