Olympic exposure gives county hockey a boost

Nic White signs Tariq Saeed's shoe

Anna Townend was impressed by Nic White's bronze medal

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

ACCORDING to its players, hockey is “the fastest and fittest game around”.

Players hit a ball at 100 miles an hour, and it is very good at improving hand-eye co-ordination.

Hockey clubs around Oxfordshire have seen a big increase in interest since the GB women’s team brought home a bronze medal from this summer’s Olympics.

And the season has just started, so there has never been a better time to sign up.

David Shannon, under-10s coach at Wallingford Hockey Club, said: “We started back last week and the numbers are up significantly on last year.

“On Sunday morning we had more than 200 kids. The Olympics were definitely a big boost.

“Hockey is the fastest and fittest game around. You are hitting a ball at 100 miles an hour, and it is one of the few games that really hones your hand-eye co-ordination.”

Some of the younger players from the Wallingford club went to see the Olympic hockey, and were treated to a visit from team GB women’s captain Kate Walsh in August.

Last year the club’s under-10s team won the regional championships in London.

“Things like that show people why they should come and play for us,” said Mr Shannon.

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The Wallingford club has more than 100 members.

Meanwhile the Oxford Hockey Club (OHC) boasts 11 men’s teams, seven ladies’ teams and more than 250 juniors from under eight to 18.

On Sunday, the junior club open day featured a visit by Nic White, who was a forward in the GB team that thrashed New Zealand 3-1 at the Olympics to win a bronze medal.

Tariq Saeed, nine, from Barton, has been playing hockey since he was five, and inspired his mum to sign up as a coach for the club.

He said: “We had a visit from Nic White. It was cool. I asked her to sign my shoe.

“I am a forward, which means I try to score as many goals as possible and tackle the opposition.”

Erin Forsyth, 12, from Kirtlington, has been playing hockey since she was seven, and was at the Olympic Park to see England beat New Zealand to win the bronze.

Then on Sunday she got to meet her heroine.

She said: “Nic White brought her bronze medal to the club and it was really epic. It is a fun, active sport. You get to run about and get rid of all your energy.”

  • There are hockey clubs in Oxford, Abingdon, Wallingford and Witney. More information can be found at oxfordhc.org and wallingfordhc.org.uk

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