Hockey receives participation boost

Men playing Rush Hockey

In an exciting year for hockey in England, the sport received a boost today as it was revealed that the number of adults playing hockey increased by almost 27,000 in the past six months. 

The statistics form part of the Active People Survey released by Sport England and reflect the trend that England Hockey has seen in its affiliation figures since 2007, in which adult affiliation has increased 14% and young people by 18%.

The increase is credited in part to the early impact of a host of programmes introduced by England Hockey since the last quarter of 2011.  Rush Hockey, the sport’s casual 5-a-side format, and Back to Hockey sessions for women have been well received and well attended while the sport’s Hockey Nation Olympic engagement programme has seen hockey ‘out and about’ at public events across the country. A milder winter is also thought to have encouraged more people to play than in recent years.

The Active People Survey figures show that participation in hockey in England rose by almost 27,000 in the past six months to 106,100.  The number of people playing hockey once a week grew, largely due to a significant increase among men aged 16-34, a key target group for Rush Hockey.  Once a month participation also grew in the 16-34 age group, particularly among those aged 20-24.  

Holly Woodford, Development Director at England Hockey, said: “The latest Active People results are very encouraging for the sport. We believe this latest increase is an early indication that our new programmes and the Hockey Nation campaign, to make the sport more visible and accessible, are beginning to have an impact. As an outdoor sport the milder winter has clearly had a positive impact in getting more people out to play. On the eve of the London 2012 Olympic Games it is a very exciting time for hockey. Thanks to the support and investment from Sport England we will continue to build on this success and increase the number of opportunities for people to pick up a stick and give hockey a go during and long after the Games.”

This summer an anticipated 25,000 people are expected to pick up a hockey stick as part of the Hockey Nation – Give it a Go programme.  Hockey Nation – Give it a Go sessions will offer anyone, regardless of age, ability, previous hockey experience or location, the opportunity to pick up a stick and give hockey a go. Centred around a five week period from 27 July until 2 September, Give it a Go activities for adults and young people will be run by hockey clubs and leisure providers and will be searchable via an online search site, www.hockeynation.info.

So far, the Hockey Nation programme has seen the country’s top international hockey players visit more than 250 schools; the npower Big Dribble public engagement tour visit 40 towns and cities over 18 days; more than 300 hockey coaches enjoy a day observing Great Britain’s Olympic coaches in action; 1500 Hockey Makers sign up to volunteer at hockey events and the Investec London Cup in Chiswick attract close to 8000 supporters.

Next month, on 12 July, the Hockey Nation programme will see Great Britain’s Olympic athletes join guests and British Olympic hockey players of the past for a true celebration of hockey at the 2012 Gala Dinner

Get your tickets for the 2012 Gala Dinner here.