In November last year, Midstream had the distinct honour of becoming the world’s first Certified Lighting Provider under the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) Quality Programme. The FIH Quality Programme is designed to ensure a consistent level of excellence across the wide range of equipment and facilities used in the modern game.
As we approach the first anniversary of that announcement, and to find out more about what being endorsed by the FIH really means, we caught up with James Brunt – Midstream’s Director of Sports – for a chat about all things hockey.
James, when did the certification process with the FIH get underway?
Well, I think it’ll be almost exactly one year since we first started on the path to becoming certified. We had to go through what was essentially a vetting process before we could join the Quality Programme, and that took about two months from start to finish. So, yes, it would have been around the start of September 2021.
The interesting thing about the application process was that the FIH team weren’t just interested in our products. We had to produce a series of lighting designs that the FIH could review and sign-off on, so the process was as much about our design philosophy and solution capabilities as it was the quality of our manufacturing.
I guess that’s all part of the benefit of certification though, isn’t it? That it’s not just about the products, but the thinking behind them too?
One hundred percent, yes. The great thing about the Quality Programme is that it gives clubs reassurance in the choices they’re making. They get the confidence that the products and solutions they’re buying have been vetted and approved by a major governing body, and that kind of certainty is important regardless of your financial situation.
Obviously, that certification is a major distinction for us as well. It tells our customers that we offer something no-one else can, that what we sell is built to last, and that we can deliver a lighting system that lives up to FIH expectations absolutely anywhere. I think that even transcends hockey to some degree, and is relevant to sports clubs of any kind.
And in terms of those expectations, what does that mean for Midstream? There’s obviously an element of standard setting here.
Of course, and that’s a responsibility we take very seriously. This certification essentially means that Midstream’s products and solutions represent a benchmark in terms of what a great lighting system looks like, and that’s something that we’re incredibly proud of – particularly when you consider that Midstream is a relative newcomer compared with some other providers.
It’s important to us that we continue to live up to that expectation. I think it’s also important to note that this isn’t about taking anything away from anyone else. This isn’t a case of saying that hockey clubs can only use Midstream. It’s simply a case of us having worked with the FIH to establish a standard, and that right now, we’re the only certified provider under the Quality Programme.
With all of that in mind, how important do you think that Midstream’s previous work for hockey clubs and organisations has been?
I can honestly say that I don’t think this would have happened if we hadn’t been working with the likes of England Hockey and Great Britain Hockey. Working with them has helped us build up our reputation across the sport, and given us access to a range of opportunities that have subsequently helped to create the relationship that we now have with the FIH.
It's not just about the UK, of course – you’ve also been involved in a number of hockey projects around the world. What impact do you think the FIH Quality Programme will have on those kinds of initiatives going forwards?
To me, that bigger international picture is why things programmes like this are so important. In the UK, we’re very lucky in that we have a developed economy and – as a result – most clubs can afford to invest in lighting that’s typically of a high standard. Other countries aren’t as fortunate in that respect, and so standards can sometimes take a back seat in favour of lowest cost.
Governing bodies like the FIH are crucial because, through the Quality Programme, they’re able to help clubs in those countries understand the true importance of good lighting. So, for us, that represents an opportunity to help drive up standards around the world.
So it’s as much about education as anything else?
For sure. And I think that crosses over into the area of sustainability as well, which is obviously something that we’re incredibly passionate about. As well as helping them get a handle on lighting quality, we see this as a good opportunity to inform clubs about the benefits of LED technologies and energy-efficient approaches to lighting.
To me, the entire Quality Programme is about giving hockey clubs the support they need to make the right decisions about their lighting. Regardless of where they are, regardless of the background, this is about acting as a guide for great lighting, and that’s a brilliant opportunity for us.