Support through Sport UK spoke to Coach Dafydd Bowles about Hampton-in-Arden Hockey Club …
So, Dafydd, why should people come and play at Hampton-in-Arden hockey club?
Well, we're a well-established, friendly hockey club, with our own pitch and clubhouse in a lovely Midlands village. Our club suits all ages and abilities - we have members aged from seven to 60+ (I'm protecting some of our older members' dignity with that answer!). We also have a team of well qualified coaches, including some ex-international and current junior international players.
But why hockey?
It's a fun, team sport. One of the things Hampton is proudest of is that you make so many friends when you join the club. It's also an outdoor sport, so you get to come and do some exercise out in the fresh air. We offer training and matches so it's a good way to get and stay fit too.
Is your club open to all, regardless of age, gender or ability?
We welcome juniors from the age of seven and there are matches for juniors from u10s up to u16s. We also run what we call a badgers team, which is a team made up mostly of junior boys or girls, but with a couple of adults, so that kids can start to see what adult hockey is all about. Hampton runs three ladies and four men’s teams too, and a vets side, and a mixed team, so there is something for everyone. We also run training sessions, for juniors and seniors, so that everyone gets a chance to practice and learn, as well as compete. We don't offer zone hockey at the moment, which is ideal for players with special needs - be they physical disabilities, sensory impairments, learning or behavioural difficulties - but we have contacts in the area who can help people out if that's the sport they want to play.
How much does it cost to play?
For children there is a one-off membership fee - that covers everything and is £50. There're even discounts if you have brothers or sisters who also play. For adults there are a range of memberships, and you then play a match fee, but training is free.
What about kit? Is it an expensive sport to take up?
Anyone is welcome to come along and give hockey a go - we have kit that people can borrow. All they need to start really is a pair of trainers. However we do recommend that anyone playing hockey has a gum shield and shin pads. You can get these from most sports shops quite cheaply. We sell our own club kit with some of the proceeds going back into the club so we can buy more training equipment.
And what about the social side?
Our clubhouse and pitch are on the same site, which means there's always teams around at the weekend to support one another, and there's always a chance for a drink and a natter! We're also part of a bigger sports club, so we can be part of the sports club socials including quizzes and curry nights. We also hold an annual dinner, and a sport tour every year. Having fun off the pitch is just as important as having fun on it for us!
Does your club have any famous players?
We have two Olympians! This summer we were really proud to support former junior member Sally Walton as she won bronze with Team GB. Sally played for Hampton from the age of seven and only left at 18, when she moved up north to university. She came back to visit a junior training session not long ago, and has certainly inspired many of our members to try to reach such great heights. Robert Clift was also a Hampton junior and he was part of the famous gold winning side in Seoul in 1988 (remember the quote ‘where oh where were the Germans? And frankly, who cares?’). I try to claim some fame for having played for Wales from the juniors through to captaining the U21s, but everyone always reminds me then that Sally got an Olympic medal!
And a last question ... am I going to get whacked if I play?
Well, the honest answer is - maybe! Hockey is one of those sports where you do find yourself sometimes putting your body on the line. But it's also a sport of great skill, and when the team is playing well, there is nothing better than zipping the ball across the pitch or scoring a great goal. And my advice is, if you don't hold onto the ball too long, or if you run fast enough (!), no-one will get near and you won't give them a reason to whack you!
Many thanks for talking to Support through Sport UK, Dafydd.
Club: Hampton-in-Arden Hockey Club
Brief Description: We are a friendly Midlands club which offers the chance to learn and play hockey for ages seven up.