Saturday, July 20, 2024

How Newport, formed in 2017, won England Hockey emerging club of the year award

Seven short years on from being formed, Newport Hockey Club were announced as the England Hockey Emerging Club of the Year. There was longevity too on the night when club member Glyn Thomas won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony in Leicester.

The club was founded in 2017 with the aim of bringing hockey to people of all ages and abilities to the town. Fast forward to 2024 and the club now has over 220 active members, four men’s teams, two women’s teams, an over 50s SAGA team and a junior section with teams at U8s, U10s, U12s, U16s, Beavers and Badgers. 

The club will also be introducing a men’s fifth team and women’s third team into the league next season “to ensure everyone is catered for”.

Over the past year, the junior section has doubled in size with 65 juniors in school years 2 – 9 attending two weekly training sessions and representing the club across the junior teams. Each summer the club run free to attend ‘Give it a Go’ taster sessions to bring new juniors on board and give them a taste of hockey for the first time.

Ash Williams, club captain and junior head coach, says: “The club’s membership now ranges from ages six to 83. Throughout this journey, since the club was founded in 2017, the vision has always been to provide hockey for all regardless of age, background, or experience. 

“We are proud to say this is being achieved. There has been continued success on the pitch, with the Men’s 1st and 2nd teams having just achieved their 5th and 2nd successive promotions. The U12 boys were crowned Shropshire county champions in 2023 and placed 7th in the Midlands at the IN2 finals days and the U10 girls have just finished 10th in the Midlands in their first ever year playing together.”

To ensure the long-term stability, the club has further developed our infrastructure by:

  • Employing an external coach to run the men’s training and dividing into separate squad sessions to maximise accessibility & player development.
  • Growing the junior coaching team by fully funding access to England Hockey training courses. Helpers include older junior members, developing coaching and leadership skills, whilst working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Volunteering sections. The team provides 1-2-1 support for several juniors with additional needs and work with parents to create an accessible environment.
  • Expanding the in-house team of umpires, with the club funding members to complete their level 1 courses. Any playing umpires match fees are waived as way of thanks.
  • Working with local businesses to secure sponsorship and recruiting a volunteer Fundraising Officer to source funds to reduce any on costs to the members. With this support, the club has purchased an additional 5 x junior goalkeeping kits, a set of 30 junior hockey sticks, junior goals, pitch dividers and a storage container! Our headline sponsor for the past 2 seasons has been: Carl Summers Financial Services

The club also plays an active role in the local community and volunteered with the Newport Shropshire Rotary Club on their annual Christmas sleigh ride, which helped raise a total of over £8000, which will be used to support local good causes. 

It is also in its fourth year of fundraising for Severn Hospice, having raised over £5000 for the charity through events such as club days, a Newport2Naples virtual running challenge and entering a team into their annual dragon boat race. The total will reach £6000+ by September.

Glyn Thomas also got in on the action at the England Hockey awards , being crowned with the Lifetime Achievement Award, but was unable to attend on the night after representing Wales over 75s in goal at a tournament in Ireland.

He first got into hockey aged 13, when he was persuaded to play in goal when the team were short, he didn’t keep a clean sheet but did enjoy the experience. Now, aged 83, he is still playing several times a week. 

He is the Men’s 5s’ GK at Newport, represents his country at age 65+, 70+ and 75+ and volunteers his time as an assistant coach for the women’s section at Newport. He also helped launch the junior section in 2021 and umpires across the club weekly, including the Men’s 1s. 

“His love for the game is unrivalled and he is loved and respected across the club and in the wider hockey world, as he also umpires for several universities,” says Williams.

“We are so proud of everything that is being achieved at Newport. The success on the pitch speaks for itself but it is the work behind the scenes and the impact we are able to have back on the local community which really stands out for me. We want to keep going and ensure everyone is given the chance to access the sport.

“His commitment to the sport is phenomenal. He is a true gent and always puts others first. The number of hours he commits to volunteering coaching at ladies training and umpiring each week is incredible. He is a role model for all who know him and a quality goalkeeper too!”

There is no big secret to the success, adds Williams, it is a culmination of passion and hard work and commitment in ensuring that hockey is accessible for all. 

“In the early days we secured vital funding from the town council and grants from Sport England to really help the club find its feet, with equipment and funding coaching courses,” says Williams. 

“Another key piece to the success has been upskilling in-house with members fully funded through coaching courses, umpiring courses, first aid and DBS checks – putting back into the club has been absolutely key, as then the coaching team are passionate and have a great rapport with the rest of the members.”

The growth has largely come through the junior section, something the club launched three seasons ago, initially aimed at juniors in school years 7-9, each year we have expanded the age range and now offer to year 2 upwards with split sessions and Newport even working with local groups such as cubs and primary schools to run themed taster sessions. A recent one was ‘Gladiators’, with the key outcome being having fun.

Williams adds: “It has all been about marginal changes and taking positive steps to move forwards with that vision always in mind about being inclusive and accessible for all.”

Total Hockey

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