30,000 more adults playing hockey

Participants enjoying a game of hockey

Bold decisions, innovation and international success have all contributed to 30,000 more adults playing hockey in England this year, making it the team sport with the largest participation growth in 2012.

According to the latest Active People Survey findings released by Sport England hockey has seen significant growth over the past 12 months, progress that can be attributed to the long term change process that is in motion in the sport.  The increase of 30,000 adult participants is the fifth highest statistically significant growth of any sport in the past year.

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Lincoln roses rush hockey 450

Much of the increase is attributed to the first full year of Rush Hockey and Back to Hockey, two new forms of the sport specifically developed for more casual participation, and the successful activation of the Hockey Nation Olympic engagement programme.

Club hockey too is thriving. The increase in participation, the vast majority of which takes place in hockey clubs, is supplemented by England Hockey’s club affiliation figures which also show a significant increase in the number of young people (under 16) registering with hockey clubs. The affiliation figures for the 2012-2013 season, which are submitted by hockey clubs as part of their annual affiliation process to the National Governing Body, show 5500 more young people playing in clubs compared to 2011-2012.

Holly Woodford, England Hockey Development Director, puts hockey's success down to hard work by everyone involved in the sport. She said: “We are delighted that 30,000 more people are playing hockey, and pay tribute to the dedication and support of our clubs, coaches, volunteers and partners for their critical role in this growth. Participation is probably one of the toughest challenges in sport right now and it has taken a series of bold decisions and innovative changes across hockey to stimulate this increase.  We are particularly pleased to see the sharp increase in young girls joining local clubs and feel strongly this is as a result of the increased media coverage of women’s hockey and women’s sport during the Olympics.  Hockey is an ambitious sport and we plan to stay focused on the challenge and build on this year’s growth in participation.”

A young girl plays hockey on the Olympic smurf turf

The positive news comes on the back of a fantastic 12 months for hockey. In addition to the nationwide roll-out of Rush Hockey and Back to Hockey, and the success of the Hockey Nation programme, the past year has seen greater visibility for hockey in the media, the attraction of new commercial partners to the sport and the outstanding achievements of the Great Britain men’s and women’s teams at the Olympic Games with the women winning the bronze medal and the men reaching the bronze medal play-off.

Many people tell us they were inspired to play by a family member or friend. There couldn't be a better time to inspire more people to get into hockey. Why not start 2013 by taking a friend along to a session together. It could be your club or the local Rush Hockey or Back to Hockey site.

Thanks for making 2012 such a great year for hockey in England.