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Hockey’s Changed Too

by Alex Danson, Athlete Mentor, Youth Sport Trust

In my role as an international hockey player and Youth Sport Trust Athlete Mentor, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to visit lots of schools to help inspire, engage and motivate students to continue to develop and improve their lives through sport.

My involvement in sport, and in particular hockey, has taught me so much. I love the fact that hockey is a team sport which I can play with my friends. I love running about and there is nothing better than scoring a goal with your team. It has also taught me a number of life skills, such as self discipline, belief to be the best I can be, to have confidence in my abilities, and to respect my peers.  Hockey is a springboard from which youngsters can learn these important life skills, and I feel passionately about more young people having the opportunity to enjoy this fantastic sport.

I would therefore love to see more youngsters being introduced to the sport in a fun and engaging way at school. Hockey is traditionally thought of as a school sport, and whereas it is delivered very well in some secondary schools, it seems to be falling off the radar in some others. Sometimes teachers don’t play hockey themselves so perceive it to be complicated or difficult to deliver and this isn’t the case! I also sometimes meet youngsters who associate their hockey experience at school with ‘standing around outside getting muddy, cold and wet’, ‘getting hit on the foot by the ball’, or ‘never getting a touch on the ball’.

England Hockey has a new campaign called ‘Hockey’s Changed Too’ which I am really proud to support! The campaign aims to help support teachers to deliver easy, fun and engaging versions of the game.  

Using larger, lighter hockey balls, playing in smaller sided teams without goalkeepers, and playing on a variety of surfaces are examples of relatively simple adaptations that can make a huge difference to the quality of the experience for everyone involved.  If your school has the appropriate facilities, equipment and staff expertise to be able to deliver 11 a side hockey and do it well, then great!  However, if this isn’t quite right for you or your school then why not try an alternative which can give everybody involved a much better experience?

To find out which alternative way to play may be suitable for you and your school please seewww.englandhockey.co.uk/hockeyschanged You can register your interest in a free taster session, and also be in with a chance of winning some free hockey equipment!

I was lucky – my teacher, like many others, gave me a fab experience at school and I have been able to progress and continue to play a sport that I love ever since. As an aspiring PE teacher I am excited by the opportunity this initiative provides to give students enjoyable and engaging sessions which give them an opportunity to find a sport that they might love to continue to play.  But that first experience is so important – please let us help you to make sure that in hockey terms it is a good one! 

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