Minister for Sport lights up Maidstone HC

Helen Grant and Maidstone Hockey Club

Helen Grant, Minister for Sport and Equalities and Maidstone’s local Member of Parliament led proceedings on Saturday 23 November when she formally turned on the improved pitch lights at Maidstone Hockey Club, which was recently the recipient of £50,000 grant support from Sport England under its ‘Inspired Facilities’ programme.

The evening had a wonderful festive feel, as guests, club-members, vice presidents and parents gathered together to enjoy a packed and enjoyable evening of events on the club's now improved floodlit all-weather pitch.

To start things off, the Club Juniors were taken on a master-class on short corners by GB international Dan Fox and Club head coach Jimmy Christmas. Dan played in last year’s London Olympics, and the Club were privileged to have him attend and address the youngsters with his skills and advice. Dan was also kind enough to sign some of the junior's hockey sticks afterwards as well! The Sports Minister also joined in with some of the Juniors, where she demonstrated her own hockey skills and was presented with a suitably personalized club hoodie by Club Junior, Izzie Ramiro. Given the rather brisk temperatures of the evening, Helen wore it instantly.

Hannah Blaydon, from Sport England, spoke passionately about the national ‘Inspired Facilities’ programme (which is still running), set up to ensure that those inspired by the 2012 London Olympics are able to participate in sport using the best facilities possible. She explained that this funding comes from the National Lottery, and urged everyone to keep buying the tickets!

Following further Junior exploits the crowd witnessed a Ladies’ East Region, Premier Division 1 official league match under the improved lights. It was an exciting derby encounter between Maidstone and Canterbury. At the end of a closely fought match it was visitors Canterbury who ran out 2-0 winners.

Maidstone HC is just one of many examples of Sport England funding helping out the great sport of hockey, from the lighting of pitches all the way to the World Cup 2018, which was recently awarded to England Hockey by the FIH.