Havant HC have hailed the continued success of its community programme with one of the key aims of taking hockey into local state schools, writes Richard Bright.
The club says that teaching of the game in state schools “is patchy at best” but Havant, founded in 1905, are bucking the trend and over the last year saw 29 borough schools represented in the club’s Minis section alone.
In the 1970s, Havant were one of the first clubs in the UK to establish a junior section and in the 1990s extended their coaching support into the community. This programme has been running uninterrupted ever since, while the club now has 200 junior members on its books.
“Many schools now have poor and out-dated equipment and many teachers struggle with confidence to teach a game they perhaps find technical,” a club spokesperson said. “Our programme sets out to address this head on, introducing a new generation of children and teachers to safe and fun hockey-based activities.
“The benefits to the local community are wide ranging and support key elements of the Havant Borough Council 2036 plan and government national aims to improve health across communities by promoting more active and healthier lifestyles.
“Clearly this programme with young children is developing the benefits of exercise and healthy living through sport in their early years, which can have a knock-on effect throughout their lives. Alongside the well documented benefits of team sports the aim is to bring a sense of belonging and a place where friendships are made, often for life.”
The camps not only benefit the children but also parents who may not be able to take time off work during school holidays, or who may struggle with the high cost of childcare. The take-up, says Havant, is high with between 30 to 50 children signed up for each camp throughout the year.
The camps are, in many cases, attended by children from partnership schools where club coaches have introduced hockey directly to their school.
The camps also provide an opportunity for the development of coaches. This provides vocational opportunities for young people to develop their skills in coaching and providing sport in the community.
These young coaches are significant influencers to the younger children and act as role models for them too. In addition a six-week coaching scheme has been developed to help upskill primary school teachers and auxiliary staff.
In conjunction with Jennifer Knight, a School Games Organiser for Havant Borough, a schools league is run in the Autumn term. This is part of the Youth Sports Trust initiative including the School Games and currently involves 49 schools in the borough.
Each year a Gold League is played for year 6 pupils and for schools with a higher standard of Hockey. The winner of which goes into the multi sports Hampshire School Games final.
Knight said that Havant along with Jon Keynes, the community programme manager, have been the driving force behind an increased interest and uptake in hockey with Havant Borough.
“Hockey is a sport which some of our teachers are anxious about teaching due to the health and safety of the sport, but through working with Jon, he has been able to upskill teaching staff and promote the sport within our schools,” says Knight.
“Jon has run the Havant School Games School League for many years now. The league is fantastic as it offers children the opportunity to compete in Hockey no matter what their ability level is, it gives teachers the chance to develop their knowledge of the game, young leaders the chance to officiate and volunteer and young people an exit route to the club.”
Havant run 14 junior teams playing in regional Leagues and on a typical Sunday morning you will find 50 under-8s and 10s at the Minis coaching session
Alongside its community work, Havant have also put a group of aspiring juniors onto ‘Coaching Pathways’.
This support enables them to gain recognised coaching qualifications and to then support and lead sessions. Over the last year, they have been working with around 15 coaches and helpers as well as supporting many other children who wish to gain Duke of Edinburgh experience, through coaching a known sport.
Many of these supported coaches, also volunteer in different junior groups helping to keep the coaching strong within the club.
“They become more confident leaders, good communicators and they really enjoy giving back to the next generation,” a club spokesperson added.
“Many of the children, without doubt, view these coaches as positive role models and draw inspiration from their time together. To name but one, Morgan Sturt has come right through this programme and is now a member of the 1st XI squad.”
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