Hallam students help diversify hockey in Sheffield with launch of pioneering junior club

20th October 2023

Hockey is expanding in Sheffield as more than 50 youngsters from Norton and the surrounding area take up the sport this autumn, following a strategy provided by Sheffield Hallam’s sport development students.

The plan was devised earlier this year and aimed to establish a junior hockey club as part of a community with limited access to the sport – by working with schools and local groups to create inclusive teams and initiatives and support players of all abilities with a pathway through hockey. It provided actions to establish a community hub to help young people become more physically active and ensure a welcoming atmosphere for everyone, irrespective of age, gender and ethnicity. 

The new junior development programme follows a summer where 189 children aged five-to-14-years-old took part in Sheffield University Bankers Hockey Club (SUBHC) and The Wolf Academy’s free hockey camps in Norton, with 59 per cent of participants picking up a hockey stick for the first time. 

Jack Cooke, a participant from the summer camps and member of the new junior club, said:

“I loved the summer camps as they were fun and taught by brilliant teachers. I like hockey as it's fast and I enjoy being part of a team.” 

Second-year students on Sheffield Hallam’s BSc (Hons) Sport Development with Coaching course devised the strategy for SUBHC.  

Connor Anderson, one of the students who contributed to the development plan, said: 

“The task enabled me to identify target groups and create an action plan that allowed me to create solutions to increase participation within the club. I was able to identify the specific actions the club needed to take to increase junior participation, as well as the timings and performance measures required for the club to achieve its goals.” 

Diversity in hockey is a major issue for the sport. Earlier this year England Hockey announced its under-16 programme, with 80% of the players selected from independent schools. According to a recent national survey, only six per cent of those playing at England hockey clubs were from ethnic minority backgrounds.  

Barriers that face state-schools teaching hockey include a lack of facilities and suitable astroturf pitches, limited budget to pay qualified coaches and fewer full extra-curricular programmes of sport which involve competitive fixtures against other schools. 

Richard Kirtley, Club Secretary at SUBHC, said:

“We are overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response to our summer hockey camps. Witnessing children embrace hockey and recognising the transformative potential it offers them has been truly rewarding. We are excited about the possibilities that this partnership with Sheffield Hallam has brought, and couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Our partners in this endeavour, The Wolf Academy, were equally blown away by the enthusiasm that the participants brought, and are excited to be able to work with us on future projects like this. The future really does look bright!” 

Chris Cutforth, Course Leader for Hallam’s Sport Development with Coaching course, added: 

“It was so pleasing and rewarding to see the club implementing some of the ideas provided by the students. The Sport Development with Coaching team work hard to provide our students with learning experiences which prepare them for the real world. The students involved in this activity learnt a great deal, and the results were clearly beneficial to the club and the local community”.     

Sheffield Bankers Hockey Club was founded in 1927 and merged with Sheffield University Hockey Club in 2000 to form Sheffield University Bankers Hockey Club. It was based at University of Sheffield’s Goodwin Sports Centre until 2017, when the club moved to a new facility at Norton Sports Park and subsequently needed to prioritise the senior teams. The club has since developed with support from its partners The Wolf Academy hockey coaching, which was co-founded by Sheffield Hallam alum Will Hearne, Catalyst Hockey equipment specialists, Sport Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam sport business management students.  

It is looking to expand into other under-served areas of the city, with prospective partners encouraged to get in touch with the club. 

For more information about Sheffield University Bankers Hockey Club, visit www.subhc.co.uk  

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