Thursday, July 18, 2024

Devon juniors revel in Premier Division hockey trip to Clifton

A traffic delay on the M5 did nothing to deter the spirits of an 18-strong party from Taw Valley HC as a 190-mile round trip proved a memorable experience for the North Devon club at their first Premier Division game.

Stuart Govier, Taw Valley’s junior coordinator and social media lead, took eight juniors and parents to Clifton Robinsons’ opening clash against Surbiton – the perfect start to our #watchyour1s campaign, which launched on Tuesday.

Their mini bus was caught in heavy traffic on the way, but so too was the match umpire and in the end they only missed the opening minutes of the Vitality Women’s Premier Division match, which ended 2-2.

At the end of the match, GB Olympian Leah Wilkinson shared her bronze medal with some of the Taw Valley juniors to much fanfare.

“I am very much for one for trying opportunities at the club and the long trip was worth it just to see some of the faces,” said Govier. “Any opportunity to inspire is important and the look of sheer joy on one of the young girl’s faces was fantastic.”

Taw Valley juniors meet Claire Jones, of Clifton Robinsons

The club juniors also met Clifton’s Claire Jones, who started her hockey journey at Taw Valley. “We felt it was important for the juniors to see what you can achieve, no matter where you start from,” added Govier.

“The fact that Clifton and Surbiton were so welcoming was also a very important thing for us and there was a massive buzz on the bus back.”

Taw Valley is the furthest club north in North Devon and has faced up to the 3G issue during the pandemic after its regular school venue withdrew facilities (the club is the only one within 30 minutes of its venue).

With only three venues in the immediate area, players and parents are pushing the boundaries on travel times, with extra 40-minute round trips for training, while its 1s teams are now regularly playing in Bristol.

Under-12 midfielder Isabella holds Leah Wilkinson’s medal

Nevertheless, their social media presence has seen an uptick in new membership as it battles with other sports.

Govier also regularly posts on Pro League and Commonwealth Games tickets as a way to engage its members while he hopes the weekend trip has spurred an audience to watch domestic hockey.

“We are hoping that the kids who came with us will engage with their peers at training and say how brilliant it was to meet their heroes,” he added.

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