Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
When I saw that England Hockey were running a campaign aimed at introducing kids to hockey and giving more young children between that ages of 5 and 8 years old a chance to experience what hockey is all about, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It also had the added benefit of them actively promoting hockey for this age group with the local hockey clubs all through England. This is a much-needed investment in the future, I believe.
Hockey is one of those sports that I personally love. I played hockey all through my schooling in Zimbabwe, right up until I left school after completing my A ‘Levels. It was always one of those sports that I couldn’t wait for my two little girls to be old enough to play. For the last six months before we left South Africa in June 2018, my eldest daughter had the chance to play hockey with her school, age 6. It was so cute and she was doing quite well actually.
Continuity and Consistency
When we moved to the UK from South Africa, I tried to keep some of the sports and after-school activities the same to help provide them with a bit of continuity to help them adjust to their very different life here. I searched the local area for hockey clubs for kids, but the closest we could find at the time was in York and their training sessions were on a Friday night at 18.00. Based halfway between York, Leeds and Selby, it was taking us over an hour to get there. The weather was absolutely shocking too and whilst I admit that was mostly my problem, we were still adjusting to our first winter in the UK. It was not pleasant.
The club I found was the only one in the area offering hockey for their age group, the under 8s. They offered 3 free taster sessions which are about introducing kids to hockey. After that, we’d need to sign them up for the whole season. Unfortunately, considering the distance and the timing, we sadly decided not to continue.
I wasn’t quite ready to give up.
We compromised and signed my eldest up for hockey with the after-school clubs and she continues to love doing this even now.
I also signed the girls up with the local hockey club in Tadcaster – Tadcaster Magnets, and the training took place at Tadcaster Grammar School on their astroturf. This is a fantastic facility and the best part … it was only a 20-minute drive from us through the country lanes! No need to tear up the motorway during rush hour to hurry up and wait in a traffic jam!
What is Hockey Heroes all about?
Introducing Kids to Hockey!
Hockey Heroes is a campaign organised by England Hockey with the purpose of introducing kids to hockey, specifically children between the ages of 5 and 8 years old.
For the fee of £32.00, each child gets 2 hockey sticks, a ball, and a personalised Hockey Heroes t-shirt with their name on, as well as 6 coaching session at the club of their choice.
The campaign is totally inclusive or both boys and girls and is aimed at beginners. Whilst my eldest has played before, my youngest hadn’t and both thoroughly enjoyed the whole programme.
Hockey Heroes Super Powers
What it was actually about, from a mum’s perspective, is teaching the kids the basic skills of hockey, passing, shooting and ball control. In addition to that, the coaches put a huge amount of emphasis on teamwork, good sportsmanship, playing together and having fun.
There were 6 key ‘superpowers’ separated into two separate focus areas.
Group 1: Physical superpowers:
- Scoring Goals
Group 2: Character Development:
- Respect and perseverance
Each week the coaches mixed two of them together to deliver a programme that really got all the kids playing, learning and having fun.
What I was also impressed with was how England Hockey made the effort to provide the local clubs with everything they needed to deliver an excellent programme. From the flashcards that I assume had the recommended training programme on them, to the other equipment and training aids that they used, to even the flags used to advertise the training. It was really impressive.
What Do You Get For Your Money?
After you register your kids via the Hockey Heroes website, (which is really simple to do … click here) you will receive your kit in the post not long after. In addition to the 6 weeks of coaching, you will receive your 2 hockey sticks, a hockey ball, and a personalised hockey shirt.
Once you have signed up you will be sent an email asking your child to answer some questions about what they hope to get out of it. During the programme, you will receive regular emails about what the kids have been up to, what they have been learning and the skills they are focusing on. At the end of the programme, you will receive a follow-up email asking you and your children to provide feedback on how they found the whole experience.
The Hockey Sticks
The hockey sticks provided were two different sizes, a 26” stick and a 28” stick. My girls are 6 and 8 years old, and both opted for the 28” stick. They did already own their own sticks, and towards the final few weeks of training my 8-year-old did use her own stick to play with as she felt more comfortable with it as it was a 32” stick. BUT … the two sticks that are sent with for each child have spaces on the for 6 stickers.
After each of the 6 sessions, let me tell you, those kids want their stickers! So even though my eldest decided to use her own stick, she still made sure we took her real hockey heroes stick with so she could get her sticker.
Gettit? Stick … sticker! What is it with kids and stickers anyway!?
The Hockey Ball
The ball provided was also not a real hockey ball, but rather a plastic ball of a slightly larger size than a traditional hockey ball.
The Personalised Hockey Heroes Shirts
The shirts came with Hockey Heroes on the back of them and each child’s first name printed on the front of the shirt. Not only did this make the kids feel proud to be wearing their hockey shirts, but it also helped the coaches and other kids know everyone’s names.
Towards the end of the six weeks, the temperatures did drop massively so most of the kids ended up wearing warmer kit over the hockey shirts, but they still wore their Hockey Heroes shirts with pride. Not only were the shirts practical, but I believe that wearing them gave the kids a sense of belonging to a team. With Teamwork as one of the main focuses of the Hockey Heroes programme, this worked brilliantly.
Getting Parents Involved!
The aim of the two sticks is not just so that your child can choose from two different sizes, but it’s so that there is a spare one for them to play with other family members. In fact, as well as playing hockey with your kids at home, for each of the six weekly coaching sessions the warm-up was parents getting involved and playing hockey with their kids.
Don’t worry, it’s nothing difficult. Mostly passing the ball between each other, hitting and stopping. The kids really enjoyed their parents getting involved as well.
The Social Effect
Through the power of social media, I saw that another friend of mine who lives in Bristol had signed her son up for hockey heroes too. I reached out to Shannon to find out what she thought of the programme. Here’s what she had to say:
What do the other parent’s have to say?
“As a mum who plays hockey, I was keen to find something my 6-year-old could be involved with that was fun engaging and had kids his own age. He had shown a keen interest in being in goal when we had a club-friendly so our club captain told me about hockey heroes. After a bit of research, it turns out it was being run by a local club whom we play summer league against – Keynsham Hockey Club. I thought, “brilliant”, and I instantly signed Joshua up.
I contacted the club to say Joshua was keen to try out in goal, as a heads up and they were just as keen as I was to see how he would fair. The long-awaited first session came and Joshua absolutely loved it. Our second session was the best, the club had managed to locate a small enough goalie kit and his energy level exploded. As a parent, I was bursting with pride! He would never have had the opportunity had we not found hockey heroes.
I think this is a fantastic way of introducing kids to hockey. It doesn’t break the bank and it gets them out in the fresh air. I love that the age group is 5-8 only.
Why should we encourage kids to be involved in Sport?
Sport is so important when it comes to teaching kids about teamwork, integrity, hard work as well as how to handle wins graciously, and losses also graciously. Competitive sport doesn’t always show this in the best light, but the emphasis that the Hockey Heroes campaign, and England Hockey, have put into this course which is about introducing kids to hockey, specifically around teaching the kids about teamwork is really awesome!
I am a huge fan of healthy competition. This isn’t always the popular opinion, and it’s actually something that my 8-year-old struggles with – she hates to lose! Like really really hates it.
After spending six weeks doing the Hockey Heroes training, I could really tell that she was taking in the fact that yes, it’s good to win, but it’s better and more fun to play as a team than to win alone. Thank you, Hockey Heroes, for that one! That in itself is worth taking them to the training on cold dark nights.
But don’t take my word for it.
There is no way I could put a post on my blog about hockey without making mention of a personal friend of mine, who has had an amazing hockey career that continues to provide her with opportunities that may not have otherwise been possible, Sarah Bennett.
Sarah lives in Zimbabwe and whilst she did very well in her own personal hockey career playing for Zimbabwe, her real talent and passion for hockey led her down a different path. Through much personal sacrifice, dedication and commitment, Sarah has succeeded in being one of the world’s most respected technical officials in the game of hockey. She was recently appointed as an official on the Pro League panel and has been appointed to officiate at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. Well done, my friend! We are so proud of you!
Thanks to her hockey career Sarah has had the opportunity to travel the world, from China to New Zealand, Chile to South Africa, the UK to Belgium. She is proof of how a passion and skill for sport can take you places, even if it’s not the traditional route everyone automatically assumes. I asked Sarah for a quote on why she believes kids should play hockey, and this is what she said:
“There is more to hockey than it just being a sport. The friendships made, the places I’ve visited and cultures I’ve learnt about have been incredible. But, most importantly hockey teaches you life skills; teamwork, sportsmanship and discipline.”
Hockey Heroes Is Awesome!
Thank you to England Hockey for this great initiative introducing kids to hockey. I can’t wait for the next session to start. And a huge thank you to the Tadcaster Magnets coaching team for their hard work, kindness and patience, showing up every time to share their passion and love of hockey with the next generation.
We attended Hockey Heroes at Tadcaster Magnets Hockey Club. The next Hockey Heroes course starts on the 23rd of April. You can find out more and sign up here: Tadcaster Magnets – Hockey Heroes Course
Disclaimer: We received two complimentary hockey places for my two daughters including the kit in exchange for reviewing the hockey heroes introduction to hockey course. This is a sponsored post, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own. All images are my own and may not be used without my permission.