This week the Federation spoke to Irish Hockey prize winners of the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund 2013 about their project ‘Healthy Heart Hockey’ …
1. Hockey has a rich heritage, dating back to the late 19th Century. How has hockey continued to grow in Ireland today?
Since 2007, the IHA have had a development team in place to ensure continued growth of the sport across the country. Our national development officer and regional development officers put together a number of programmes and support structures to ensure that there is sustained growth in our clubs and schools.
An example of one of these programmes would be Tricks4Sticks, which is mainly a primary school programme where we introduce hockey to schools that have a club in their local area that is looking to increase its numbers. The programme runs for 4-6 weeks and the school receives a number of sessions. The club then hosts an open day and the school children are invited down. The programme has proved hugely successful in increasing underage numbers and has led to a number of new clubs, new junior sections in existing clubs and new schools playing the sport. This programme falls under the ISC’s Women In Sport initiative.
Our underage numbers have grown year on year as the popularity of the sport increases and last year we achieved growth of 12% in the girls’ game and 10% in the boys’.
On top of this, we also look to recruit at the adult end, and run and support a number of veterans and social hockey events throughout the year for adults.
2.What is your advice to someone who has never played hockey but would like to sign up for the ‘Healthy Heart Hockey (H3)’.
H3 is a programme designed for everyone, whether you’ve ever held a hockey stick or not. The first port of call will be to find your local centre, whether that is within a hockey club, a community centre or a leisure centre. We will have details on www.hockey.ie, or you can contact one of our development officers or the IHA’s office itself. From there it is a case of simply turnign up to the sessions and making the most of it. Everyone is welcome!
3.What can people expect from the 5 week physical well-being programme offered?
Our primary aims for H3 are to educate people about physical wellbeing and to increase the number of people undertaking regular exercise. Participants will be offered the opportunity to try hockey as part of the exercise programme and will receive information about nutrition and leading a balanced lifestyle from our sports’ leaders. It will also allow people to enjoy exercise whilst having fun in a non-competitive, social environment.
4.The group targeted for ‘H3’ are teenagers and young adults. Can the whole family take part in the ‘H3’ programme?
There is no reason that younger or older members of families can’t join in. Hockey can be played from the age of 5 and there is no limit to playing the sport as you get older. Ireland competes at masters level internationally, with team up to over 50s. We hope to have an over 60s team in the future. The programme, whilst targeted at a certain group, is open to everyone.
5.What balanced lifestyle skills do you hope participants retain from the ‘H3’ project?
We want to show people that effective exercise doesn’t have to be boring or hugely demanding and that using sport in a social environment along with eating well and looking after yourself can have huge beneficial effects on your life. We hope to change people’s attitude towards exercise and give them the know how to make the right choices when it comes to nutrition and living well.
6.Where and when will the ‘H3’ events be taking place?
We are currently in the process of drawing up exactly how the programme will be delivered on the ground. The programme will run in the second half of 2014 and will be centered primarily in hockey clubs, where the local community will be invited in to take part. Where we do not have an existing club, community and leisure centers will be used as part of the programme.
7.Describe what people can expect at the active lifestyle session with a ‘Hockey Champion’?
The hockey champions will deliver the active lifestyle sessions in each of the centers. Part of the sessions will be based on general exercise such as warming up, the importance of flexibility, increasing heart rate etc. There will then be an introduction to hockey and a chance to play Quick Hockey, which is a small sided modified version of the sport for beginners of all ages. The participants will also be given a talk on nutrition and leading a balanced lifestyle.
8.How will people be able to sign up to take part?
The programme will be promoted using our network of clubs, social media (Twitter @irishhockey; website www.hockey.ie; Facebook, Instagram) and our newsletters which you can sign up to here http://mad.ly/signups/90797/join . People will be able to sign up through their local centre or through the IHA itself.
9.Can you participate in the regional and national hockey festival if you are not a participant of ‘H3’ programme?
The festivals, while being primarily aimed at the H3 participants, will be open to everyone, provided we can accommodate the numbers. The festivals will offer more opportunities to participate in social exercise, so all will be welcome!
10.Thanks again for your time and perhaps you have some more information on other projects and programmes that Irish Hockey are running?
A focus for Irish Hockey in 2014 is the development and promotion of Quick Hockey, our small-sided version of the game that can be played on any surface. This will be launched in the summer and hopes to make hockey more accessible to the community. We are also excited to be developing a ‘Club Accreditation Scheme’ to enable our clubs to develop and become more sustainable. We also run Primary and Secondary School programmes, details of which can be found on our website www.hockey.ie.