London 2012 legacy sees Junior Hockey Club membership up by 40% in England
The London 2012 Olympic legacy continues this week as Europe’s top men’s and women’s hockey teams return to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to battle it out for the European titles, with the winners guaranteeing qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Hosting this 2015 EuroHockey Championships, Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre is a legacy venue built to continue the spirit of the London 2012 Olympic Games. It also played host to the Paralympic Tennis tournament during the 2012 Paralympic Games.
This event, running from 21-30 August, is the latest in a series of success stories highlighting the positive benefits that the London 2012 Olympics provided for the city and wider nation.
Whilst elite hockey takes centre stage once more in London, it’s grassroots hockey that has witnessed the greatest development since the Games. England Hockey recently revealed that junior (under 16) hockey club membership is up by 40 percent while overall participation in clubs was up by 16 percent since 2011.
Since the Olympics in London, where 630,000 people watched live hockey during the event, a pattern of continued growth in the sport has emerged.
In the run up and during the Games, England Hockey had run several campaigns to increase participation. One such programme was Hockey Nation, where tens of thousands of people were given the chance to try hockey at hockey clubs across the UK.
Hockey clubs have reaped the rewards of the improved profile of the sport, focussing on a link with schools to provide excellent opportunities for young players.
Programmes such as Quicksticks – a small-sided version of hockey for 7-11 year olds – in Primary Schools have been hugely successful in allowing new players to take part in the sport from an early age.
Another effective initiative has been an East London wide programme aimed at attracting more local communities to play and watch hockey, with both primary and secondary schools involved in a dedicated local schools programme.
England Hockey is continuing to forge links with a number of local community partners to extend the reach of the sport into new communities. A great example of this is a programme that is seeing a hockey based community club working with schools in Newham. The FRE Flyers are a group of young people who took up hockey in 2011 in the build up to the London Olympics and have flourished ever since.
The Flyers are now an established hockey club and with support from England Hockey, London Sport and local school sector colleagues, they are taking hockey into a number of secondary schools in the area.
In addition to the youth projects, recent growth has also been driven by women who were inspired by Great Britain women’s bronze medal win at the London 2012 Olympics.
These women have been embraced by clubs, whether young players or new to the sport, or adults returning through England Hockey’s extremely successful Back to Hockey initiative. Figures reveal that club membership is now split evenly 50% male and 50% female.
Hockey invited people to ‘be part of it’ during the Olympics in 2012 – and the latest figures show increasing numbers are doing that every year.
Sally Munday, Chief Executive Officer of England Hockey said: ‘We are so proud of our clubs who have created more and more opportunities for people to take part in the sport and latest figures are testament to their commitment and capability. As a National Governing Body we are working hard to raise the profile of the sport and use the visibility of our successful teams and athletes to grow the game.”
The CEO explained how the strategy is working. She said: “Our strategy is based around a ‘virtuous circle’ where international success drives the visibility of the sport, which fuels a growth in participation. This then feeds back into creating international success via the talent pathways in junior hockey, and so the virtuous circle continues.”
England Hockey are certainly an example to follow when it comes to legacy development. Staging the EuroHockey Championships 2015 in the Olympic Park is yet another element to keep the virtuous circle going and get even more people inspired by the sport of hockey.
For more information about the event, and to buy tickets, visit: http://eurohockey2015.co.uk
Discover more about Hockey in England via their website: http://www.englandhockey.co.uk
Photo: England Hockey