Who needs keepers to move forward?
WHEN an administrator in any sport is asked a question on participation numbers, monotony invariably takes over. Sift through the business terminology, unravel the positive numbers’ speak and you might be left with something resembling an initiative.
When an Olympic gold medallist, who has just received an MBE at Buckingham Palace, is asked for their opinion, you take note.
“There is a lot of good work being done,” Hannah Macleod told THP. “But the junior international programme has always been a challenge for us to compete at that level, simply because we don’t pick up a stick early enough.”
On the day that Macleod and her two team-mates were receiving their honours, a new under-13 competition was being launched on the continent for young Dutch and Belgian players.
The ABN AMRO 3v3 Cup will see boys and girls’ teams compete on a 23x23m pitch without keepers. Preliminary rounds will take place in various regions and it’s open to any team or school.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, the England and Wales Cricket Board were last week launching All Stars Cricket, an initiative to attract more children to the sport.
The ECB hopes to get more than 50,000 youngsters playing between the ages of five and eight, through eight-week summer schemes put on by local cricket clubs and supported by the national governing body’s funding boost from Sport England.
Hockey (£9m) also received a hefty slice in December’s announcement from the government quango, but what should the sport be doing to get sticks in hands at an earlier age?
“There’s so much happening here that it’s almost about consolidating,” states Macleod. “At St Albans we are having to put the adults on rotation so we can play all the kids at the weekend. We have too many players for the pitch slots we’ve got.
“We are in this amazing period of growth and we have to make sure that within the club set-up we have the right infrastructure and sup- port, so we are providing the opportunities for those kids who have taken the sport up.” Initiatives or infrastructure? One for our sports administrators to ponder.
*** LAST week, The Hockey Paper was the only source of reference to detail Glenn Kirkham’s final top flight game. The response on social media clearly marked Kirkham out – as East Grinstead described him – as a “once in a lifetime player”.
Could we one day see him in a top club or national coaching role? Time will tell but judging by the last few days since retirement, he would be an intelligent and popular choice wherever he went.