Women falling in love with hockey again

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Worksop women are falling in love with hockey again, thanks to a campaign led by a local club.

The ‘Get Back to Hockey’ scheme, run by Worksop Hockey Club, is backed by Sport England and their ‘This Girl Can’ movement.

Action from Worksop Ladies Hockey Club's first team against Newark first team at Worksop College on Saturday. Celebration for Worksop after their first half goal.

Action from Worksop Ladies Hockey Club's first team against Newark first team at Worksop College on Saturday. Celebration for Worksop after their first half goal.

Hundreds of clubs across the country are opening their doors to men and women, with the aim of getting more players to return to hockey.

The six week programme, which began on 11th May, will include training sessions on Wednesday nights that will help hockey players rekindle their love for the sport, improve their fitness and make friends.

A year ago Andrea Payne took part in Get Back to Hockey, and now she can’t imagine life without the sport.

The Worksop Hockey Club second team member had hung up her hockey stick and picked up a musical instrument.

She explained: “It must have been around March or April 2015 when I was approached by Becky, who plays for the club, about getting back into hockey.

“She knew that I had previously played hockey and been involved with coaching groups of children at the school where we both work.

“My previous experience of hockey was playing as a schoolgirl for Castle Ladies, Rotherham and South Yorkshire but subsequently stopped playing due to a knee injury and to pursue my other hobby of playing in a brass band.

“The last time I picked up a hockey stick to play competitively was at the age of 16, 15 years ago.”

It wasn’t an easy decision to throw herself back into sport after such a long time out.

“Initially I was incredibly nervous, I couldn’t find my hockey stick – all I had was a really small child’s one, I thought what if other people have all the proper up-to-date gear? I wasn’t sure if the rules had changed, I didn’t know anyone there, what if we needed to work with a partner?”

All her fears were laid to rest almost straight away, when she turned up at Worksop College for her first training session.

“I met Esther and Katie, who were going to coach all the sessions, as well as a few other women looking equally as nervous as me. I was relieved to see that, like me, some others had no stick and no fancy equipment but this was not a problem as all the necessary gear was provided.

“The sessions were organised in a fun, light-hearted way but were also challenging and progressive enough for everyone to feel a sense of achievement over the weeks that we attended.

“At the end of each session, the regular players arrived ready to begin their training, which felt a little intimidating at first, but I soon realised that they were there to be supportive and make us all feel included as part of their club.”

And having completed the Back to Hockey scheme, Andrea was asked to become a full club member.

“After the last session, I was given an invitation to play a friendly game for the fourth team and attend regular weekly training.

“I immediately felt valued as part of the club and the Back to Hockey sessions made me feel that I had enough recent experience and confidence to have a go.

“A few weeks and training sessions later, I was taken-aback to be asked to play for the second team. I have loved my first season playing hockey for Worksop and now can’t imagine not playing hockey in the future.”

Worksop Ladies Hockey Club’s Back to Hockey sessions will take place from 6.30pm to 7.30pm at Worksop College, on their south pitch.

The cost is £10 for all six weeks.

Beverley Blackburn, England Hockey’s participation manager and hockey coach of seven years, says: “It’s an exciting time to come back to hockey as so many women have been inspired by the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign and want to give the sport a try. Plus we are only a few months our from the Rio Olympics. We welcome all abilities and are keen to show that hockey has come a long way from the days of muddy pitches and waiting around for a touch of the ball.”

If you are interested in getting involved please contact club captain Tracy Fuller on tracyluv12@sky.com.