Sunday, June 23, 2024

Sam Ward: We have a hell of a product in hockey, we just need better marketing

Last weekend we played again at Lee Valley for the first time with fans since my injury in November 2019. That’s 931 days. I have to say, the fans were amazing. We probably only had half the stadium full, but it didn’t feel like it. It was great to put on a performance for the crowd.

We played so much hockey for so long without fans it’s amazing to go back to normality. Having support and having fans behind you makes a massive difference. It’s all new again, so fans are getting used to being back, so the better our performances the more people will want to come and watch.

Much has been made recently about The Stoop cancellation. There was a lot of disappointment in the camp, yes, but the biggest problem was the Jubilee weekend.

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  1. At Southgate recently there were over 400 Masters Players from age 60 to nearly 80 for the Home Internationals.
    What an incredible advert for keeping fit in the later years of ones life.
    No press.
    No local dignitry or no local MP.
    No report or I cannot find it on England Masters Hockey.
    No sponsorship.
    Perhaps England Hockey need someone well versed in Publicity or to quote Sam Ward better marketing.
    We have a fantastic product that is played by players from toddlers to infinity. Is it not worth shouting about?
    Who knows? Who cares?
    Bill Goodridge

  2. Following GB’s gold in South Korea in 1988 which generated great publicity and enthusiasm across the country, the BBC did start televising internationals for the first time outside the Olympics. Unfortunately they were played at the Milton Keynes ‘national stadium’ which was never more than half full, at best.

    The Beeb gave up after a year or two, unimpressed with showing pictures of empty stands which hardly suggested a dynamic thriving sport. Lee Valley is better but still far from the ideal location. To take England games around the country (to Wales, seriously..?!) is certainly worth considering if it doesn’t affect the financial viability of the national stadium but I hope the Twickenham option is tried again before too long.

    To be fair, hockey gets plenty of exposure on BT Sport at present, and not via the red button: you can now watch FIH ProLeague games from around the world which has never been possible before (eg Netherlands/Argentina today and yesterday, and England over the next two weekends). Seeing the brilliant Belgians turning it on is as good an advertisement of the game as you could hope for. It would be interesting to know what the audience figures are. (You can also get livestreaming of all FIH international games on the picture quality is excellent, commentary variable.)

    Creating awareness through better marketing is indeed essential – much better use needs to be made of social media (not least because of the total lack of hockey coverage in the MSM). But the first priority is a winning team, able to compete at the very top level and win medals – in that respect, some promising signs but still plenty of work to be done..!

  3. So true – Even local success. Is it our fault for not informing the local press of what is going. e.g. Sefton went down to Lee Valley for the final of the England Cup, Moving up into another League,
    36 year old females got to the final of the England Clubs. I was only aware because City of Liverpool HC uses the pitch once they have finished. I think this might explain the situation. I eventually put it on Facebook.

    I have tried since 1965..

  4. Needs more ‘exciting’ camera work – high up in stands is hopeless to portray the real energy, clash and crash of the players in battle etc. More sideline camera work needed to capture the power and grunting/shunting that is happening. Surely EH should invest funds into some creative marketing and a TV company tasked to ‘bring out’ the magic of hockey. Maybe a documentary on ‘the road to….’ and perhaps low-level education of the public on rules, tactics and skills, maybe one-at-a-time instead of trying to explain everything. I suspect most of the non-hockey spectators don’t even realise goals can only be scored in the circle. Self-pass and aerial play has undoubtedly improved the watchability of the game. And how about some mixed hockey on TV most other sports can’t offer that?


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