Replacing a 17-year-old sand-filled astro is no easy task for hockey clubs at the best of times, writes Richard Bright.
Having achieved the EH Club Mark accreditation in August 2019, Telford & Wrekin HC started their Pitch In project a month later and, despite a pandemic, have hit upon their £220,000 astro funds target needed before June.
For a relatively small West Midlands club, TWHC should be commended for their efforts. Having been pledged £50,000 from the National Hockey Foundation, and £54,000 from the local council, the club was referred to Sporting Capitol by Sport England, for a potential loan of £60,000.
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Its own club funds amount to around £60,000 thanks to club members’ efforts. And while they are in striking distance, there is still a small shortfall, with the club confident of reaching a final goal of £230,000.
The club set up a Buy A Pitch Square, which has raised its £6,870 target. While most of the squares purchased went to local members, the club is now looking further afield to fill the quota and believes that contributions from other EH clubs would be a real boost. They have around 30 more squares to be purchased at £10 per square.
Alan Parham, club captain, said: “This has been a long journey, members have pulled together amazingly and we are so close to getting a new sand-dressed Astro Pitch.
“We would love other clubs to buy a Pitch Square and get their name on our Pitch mural, which will be placed pitch side. A £10 contribution would be a great gesture in helping a fellow EH club.”
As with every fundraiser of Telford’s size, there have been plenty of other initiatives along the way. Halloween and Filipino nights, cake sells, community award dinners and a Rugby Fantasy World cup league.
With most clubs attached to leisure centres, schools or colleges, the fact that the club – which counts international players – David Goodfield (Surbiton), Callum McKenzie (Cardiff), Lorna McKenzie (Loughborough), Barney Bithell (East Grinstead) as former players – also manages its own pitch with match fees going towards the new astro, and this has been pivotal to raise funds.
The club supports local schools, football clubs and Shropshire Hockey, who all use its facilities. Supporting the local community and the introduction of disability hockey, Walking Hockey are all on the to do list when the club hopefully has its new pitch in place, now targeted for June 2021.
Telford & Wrekin’s chairman, Gwynne Goodfield, said: “In our 125th anniversary year, it is very exciting to have the opportunity to get a new astro pitch, and we are now making plans to involve the community, schools and clubs so that we can be a central hub for Hockey in Shropshire.”
To buy a pitch square contact email@example.com
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