Field hockey is one of the most popular sports in the world and also one of the most inclusive – hockey is the most gender-equal sport played in the UK. Almost anyone can play hockey, from young children or adults who have never played sports before, to disabled people, to those who already have a passion for the sport but have been out of the game for many years.
Fiyaz Mughal played hockey up until the age of 18, and today enjoys watching English hockey. The short video attachment looks at HockeyFest, an annual event designed to inspire people across the UK to get into – or get back into – hockey.
What To Expect
Hockey is a team game usually played with 11 players on each side. Similar to football, the aim is to get the ball into the opposing team’s net. The difference is that the ball, which is smaller and harder than a football, is manipulated around the pitch using a hard, hooked stick. Matches are played in two halves, with 70 minutes of total playing time.
Most field hockey clubs in the UK are extremely welcoming to everyone, including beginners, and will often be able to help out with advice and even equipment. In the PDF attachment you can see what basic equipment you will need access to in order to begin playing hockey.
The sport is accessible for all ages, fitness levels, body shapes and abilities, and combines the opportunity to improve fitness with mental stimulation and enhanced hand-eye coordination. For children getting into hockey, there are often options to play matches or training sessions with smaller team sizes, on different playing surfaces, or using balls that are softer and larger.
Back To Hockey
England Hockey runs a series of informal and fun social hockey sessions across the country, inspiring people to get back into the game after a break or to take up hockey as an entirely new pastime. The expert coaches are there to guide players at all levels through the game, including total beginners and those who either don’t know or can’t remember the rules of the game.
Hockey clubs can benefit from offering Back to Hockey sessions, with advantages including increased membership, additional income and more publicity. Advice on choosing the right hockey stick for your game can be found in the infographic attachment.
Bromsgrove Hockey Club is one of the first to offer walking hockey sessions, a slower-paced and more relaxed version of the sport for those that still want to play but perhaps can’t keep up with the fast pace of the regular game. The walking hockey sessions were the brainchild of Liz Morris, a member of Bromsgrove who wanted to continue playing but struggled to keep up.
The idea immediately took off, with sign-up for initial sessions far exceeding expectations. Participants have included older people who need a slower-paced yet still fun game, a group from Slimming World, and individuals using sport as therapy or for recuperation and rehabilitation, recovering from traumas ranging from cancer to knee surgery.
The number of people with disabilities taking part in hockey has grown in the UK and continues to do so as more clubs offer playing opportunities. Flyerz Hockey clubs have specialist sessions for people in wheelchairs, the hearing impaired or deaf, the visually impaired or blind, people on the autism spectrum, and people with learning disabilities. The Flyerz Festival acts as a showcase for disability hockey, with attendees having the opportunity to meet Olympic players as well as participate in or watch skills sessions and tournaments.