In another boost for women’s sport, England and Great Britain Hockey has inked what it described as “one of the most significant partnerships in the sport’s history” after health insurance brand Vitality was announced on Thursday as principal women’s hockey partner up until the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Five months after the national governing body lost Investec as a top-tier sponsor, Vitality will support the women’s game in another landmark deal for the sport over the next three years, becoming a GB shirt sponsor as well as presenting partner for both the women’s and men’s matches in the FIH Pro League.
As with previous partners, the English domestic competition will be renamed – in this case the Vitality Women’s Hockey League – while grassroots will also stay in focus with participation programmes continuing with Back to Hockey and driving more people to play the game.
The healthy lifestyle brand has been involved with England Hockey since becoming the sport’s wellness partner in 2017, while the insurer’s input into hockey was very much evident at the 2018 World Cup in London when it was title partner of the women’s showpiece.
But today’s news is yet another lift to the women’s game in terms of raising hockey’s profile at the elite end as well as, it is hoped, ensuring overall visibility and, more importantly, access for all.
Vitality’s managing director, Nick Read, said: “There has never been a more important time to be involved in women’s sport at all levels, inspiring many more people to become more active and live healthier lifestyles.”
Women’s hockey in England has been bolstered since 2011 when Investec became a multi-year partner up until last August. The men’s game has been less fortunate in finding a title sponsor, with only NOW: Pensions’ partnership and a short deal with Toshiba emerging in the last decade.
England Hockey had been in talks with several interested parties for some time before this announcement. It had been hoped that a cross-gender partnership could be found, but for a major sponsor to be signed during these times clearly shows the value of the shirt and what it entails.
Nick Pink, England Hockey’s chief executive, said: “The profile of hockey has grown significantly in the last ten years, and to be able to announce this new partnership at such a challenging time speaks volumes for the progress hockey in this country has made both domestically and internationally.”
One of the game’s greats, Alex Danson-Bennett, will also be utilised as a performance champion to aid businesses in health and wellbeing.