A Kent club has joined forces with a local side in a bid to boost hockey’s numbers, while it is also offering free junior hockey to combat the cost of living crisis and post-Covid effects as it looks at the “next opportunity for growth”.
Sittingbourne HC has a number of its members working in the education industry and are devising a strategic plan to promote hockey and engage local primary and secondary schools.
In the wider borough, the Kent-based club are also looking at ways to engage the Isle of Sheppey and Faversham. The latter has an established hockey club (Faversham Ladies Hockey Club) and SHC want to explore the chance to work with them – the two towns are a 20-minute drive apart – on how the two clubs could boost hockey in that community.
Ed Carter, Sittingbourne HC chair, said: “As a club, community is key to our growth strategy. Attracting new players from across that community, competing with other sports and attracting players to winter sports is always a challenge.
“By working with Faversham, we hope to build on community links in the Swale area, which makes our facilities open to as many sporting communities as possible. This will also help Faversham grow their club and make our top-class facilities available to all. We look forward to working with Faversham in the coming seasons.”
Clare Smithson, Faversham Ladies HC chair, said the club was committed to supporting the growth of the sport in Swale borough.
She added: “Established more than forty years ago, originally playing under the name Davington Priory, Faversham Ladies is proud to continue welcoming players of all ages and abilities to their team.
“The opportunity to join forces with an established club, who have excellent facilities and who work closely with the local community, presented a great opportunity to continue their legacy for generations to come.”
Sittingbourne say that they their women’s section has now bolstered to two teams and have seen increased numbers at junior sections. However, the club says that to look at the next generation, free sport for juniors is a viable option despite it being a “huge commitment” for the club.
Sittingbourne are set for a £6,000 loss through the inititive and in a letter to members admitted that it will contribute to the cost while asking for local business support and donations.
“This is a huge commitment from the club, and ultimately from our members, but one that we believe is the right way forward, to allow free sport for juniors in a safe, caring, modern and welcoming club environment,” the club said.