Friday, May 27, 2022

Many student squads are fixed in stone – is university hockey picking best talent?

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Hockey Paper staff
Hockey Paper staff
Latest breaking news, previews and match reports written by Hockey Paper staff

Much of what takes place at universities in student hockey circles seems off the radar of game’s governing body, writes DAVID BARRETT

Several years ago, I was coach of my club’s under-16s.  It was a task that took me all over Yorkshire on Sunday mornings when I’d rather have been having a lie-in, but it gave me a lot of pleasure and not a little pride. I saw a group of young people develop into athletes in their own right, and become a high-functioning team with its own norms and high standards. 

Like many coaches, I had high hopes for the players as they made the transition to senior hockey, tempered with the knowledge (from my day job) that this is the key inflection point in the participation journey. Nevertheless, I had (and still have) belief in the potential of those players.

Indeed, before they left for university, the majority of that squad had found their level within the club. Most were playing regularly on Saturdays, and several had advanced through the teams to train with our performance squad. One in particular worked his way into the first team, and had such spectacular success before he left to go to university that he was elected player of the season.  Prospects seemed good for all of them.

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David Barrett is a Research Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University

Next week, David says that to improve student hockey, we need to have an honest and open discussion about what it is for


  1. Unfortunately there are cliques throughout hockey and not just in student clubs. I couldn’t get in my Uni 4ths in my first year but then spent my remaining 2 years keeping for their very strong 1st team. I’ve also faced the issue of cliques in the last few years, being an outsider moving to a new club. I now do a round trip of 70 miles to play home games but am enjoying my hockey at a small but friendly club.

  2. My only recent experience of uni hockey at a Scottish Uni is that players are able to play for the Uni plus a club. May be helped by having a lot of ‘home’ students.


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