Plans are in place for a national state school hockey tournament, The Hockey Paper can reveal.

The East region will act as the template before organisers hope to roll the tournament out nationwide and hold a regional finals day.

The tournament’s aims are to connect all current hockey-playing schools and to link with clubs to encourage growth of the sport in England.

The idea was conceived by Pete Cornell, head of hockey at Hitchin Boys’ School, and tellingly he is unsure of how many state schools in the East collectively play hockey.

But he hopes that with more localised conversations it can be established how many schools want to play and also those schools which don’t have hockey provision but hold a desire to grow hockey.

Cornell has the backing of all the East counties to trial the girls’ and boys’ state school competition with the aim of expanding every season along with sponsorship. The tournament is set to trial in the new year, pending Covid regulations and to fit around the existing England Hockey National Cups.

Feedback, he says, has been positive. “The key thing is if I asked 100 people I would get 100 different opinions,” said Cornell. “There is a passion for this to grow and one common theme is the need for a greater base within state schools.

“I am willing to do some leg work to trial ideas to solve some of the well known barriers. I hope this is a catalyst for others to join me in doing so. I believe this is a positive step in growing the state game. I want to encourage other state playing schools, and players who attend a school that doesn’t play hockey, that they are being heard and there are people out there who want to help.”

The Hockey Paper will report fully on the East concept in early 2021 following our Open Access campaign, which has been running this week.

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