Our school hockey performance took a big turn in 2017. It all started when I was introduced to Paul and his team at the Merton School Sport Partnerships PE conference. Paul told us about an opportunity available for all the schools in our borough and explained how we could get involved in their new and exciting hockey initiative for the children. We were then treated to a master class from Great Britain’s Olympic Gold medal winner Crista Cullen…what an experience that was!
Without hesitation, I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and got stuck in to setting things up at our school. Within weeks we had coaches visiting our school.
We began with a ‘drop in’ lunchtime club, which was set up and run by 2 coaches. This was then extended to team teaching during the afternoon with our year 5 and 6 classes. This allowed the teachers in these year groups to gain more confidence and knowledge in hockey which supported their CPD. The children also really enjoyed having a specialist coach teaching them.
Subsequently, at the ‘Merton School Sport Partnerships’ Borough Competition, all the children were treated to a hockey master class from a top player, and one of our students was selected by the club to become their first player to access Wimbledon Hockey club as a scholar. At our student’s first session he was presented with his team shirt by GB star players, Phil Roper and Ian Sloan.
So things were going well, but we didn’t want to stop there. To raise the profile of hockey, the whole school was treated to a special assembly by GB’s Gold medallist, Crista Cullen. The children really found this experience inspiring. As a result, we noticed an increase in the amount of girls that started attending our hockey club at school. With the help of the club, we were then able to start recommending and referring the children to Wimbledon and Merton Hockey clubs.
As part of this programme, we are invited to the annual Quick Start hockey competition. This has given more children the opportunity to represent our school and play in a fun and competitive environment against other schools. Star players are recognised by the coaches and selected to win individual prizes along with the chance to see some of the stars in action; this is always a crowd pleaser and readily welcomed by the pupils and staff!
We have now introduced hockey to our year 2 children with the teachers using the ‘Hockey Heroes’ programme. This has proved to be very popular and currently have children as young as 6 years old attending the club.
Overall, I am very impressed with the support and opportunities for development that the Quick Start Hockey offers our school. It’s been great for the whole school community and has generated a love for hockey among our pupils. Proudly, I’m pleased to say that some have continued to play the sport after moving on to secondary school. What more could we want?
Billy Edwards - Poplar School, Head of Sport