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St Ives revels in women’s hockey World Cup ticket bonus

St Ives’ World Cup initiatives won England Hockey’s Big Idea’s competition

By The Hockey Paper

England Hockey has been engaging clubs across the country during World Cup year. The national governing body ran a Big Idea’s competition, with England captain Alex Danson leading the judges to give 10 tickets to an England World Cup game for the winner.

St Ives HC proved the standout club of the shortlisted entrants. Here, head coach Helen Clarke explains to The Hockey Paper how the club will be more visible as hockey’s World Cup attempts to entice the nation once more.

Congratulations on winning Big Idea’s. How important was it for the club to use the World Cup as an initiative to get more players in the game?

We are a small community club situated between Cambridge and Peterborough. We will probably never compete at the same level as them but we believe that we offer fun, competitive and inclusive hockey for the whole family. Having the home World Cup has given us an opportunity to piggy back onto the main event and use the increased visibility and buzz to promote our activities.

We are in the fortunate position of having had Olympic gold medal winner Hannah Macleod come through the club as a junior so we have a real life success story and role model to help our cause.

Off the back of Rio 2016, we have seen a steady rise in the number of people expressing an interest in getting involved. The World Cup and the tools and resources that we have been able to access through the Your World Cup campaign has given us an incredibly important platform to make sure we are ready and able to accommodate new and returning players.

How will the club be visible at the Sports Festival in the Park and how did you won the Big Ideas?

We have a full campaign of activities on offer in the lead up to and following on from the Sports Festival in the Park. These are specifically designed to offer something for everyone, from juniors to returning players, people new to hockey to fitness fanatics; the important thing is that people can get involved.

On the day we will have a number of our members manning an area where we will offer a ‘Hockey assault course’, shooting activity with a target net and some ‘top tips’ coaching.

Our volunteers will engage and involve the sport park visitors and give them a taster of Hockey.

There will be plenty of information available about how they can access more hockey at St Ives Hockey Club with exit routes signposted to our sessions. We think that the breadth of the campaign and the visibility of the sports festival in the local community led to us winning the Big Idea and we are delighted that Alex Danson and her team felt that what we are doing at a grass roots level was worthy of recognition.

What is the junior section like at St Ives and are there any success stories since Rio?

We are very proud of our junior section and continue to see it grow year on year. We run our groups by ability rather than age to ensure that our young players are challenged appropriately and able to develop in an environment that supports success.

We have an incredible group of coaches that work tirelessly, come rain or shine, to offer high quality sessions. We have a number of success stories but not necessarily of young people moving through the talent pathway as our neighbouring clubs tend to attract players looking to play at a higher level.

Our successes are of young people growing in confidence, developing as people, competing in adult Hockey as part of a senior team and in many cases, giving back to the club as they get older by getting involved in coaching, umpiring and leadership themselves.

We have many young people in the talent pathway and hope that the foundations that we are putting in place through our junior section strategy will result in more and more of them achieving their potential.

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