Family nights are a great success at West Bridgford HC


As the social event of the season, HockeyFest is the perfect opportunity for the whole family to pop along to their local club and give hockey a go.

One club who already benefit from Hockey being a fantastic family sport is West Bridgford HC. Recognising London 2012 would inspire people to give sport a go they introduced ‘Family Nights’ into their summer programme. Now in its fourth season, this year’s sessions opened with around 90 players, with half of the group completely new to the club! Mick Hart, the club’s PR Officer and a coach, tells us more:

"We had two aims for the sessions, the first was to offer the whole family the opportunity to pick up a stick where one or two members already play. Whilst also encouraging novices to give hockey a go regardless of their ability or age.

Our coaching team cater for a range of players, from 5 year olds who are being introduced to the game, juniors who already play at the club or school, adults giving it a go for the first time and returners coming back having played in the past.

Each year the end of the programme coincides with the start of the season and our regular club training and Back to Hockey sessions. This allows both adults and juniors the opportunity to continue playing at the most appropriate session for them.’

We’ve caught up with a couple of Families who enjoy the sessions. The first is Sarah Aaron and her children Zach and Amber.

HockeyFest Family 1

Sarah’s dad began playing hockey in the army and aged 60 still plays today for his local club Abingdon HC, and it was he who introduced Sarah to the sport as a teenager after buying her a stick one Christmas. Last summer, after playing hockey as a family in the garden, Sarah took Zach (aged seven) along to the Family Night and says:

"He loves playing sport so really enjoyed it, it was great fun playing alongside him. After the Family Nights he joined the clubs junior training and I got involved in the coaching. This summer Amber (aged five) also joined us and as she’s enjoyed the sessions so far I intend to take her to junior sessions in the new season. My youngest, Jacob (aged two) will join us too in a few years time!"

The Family Nights are relaxed with an emphasis on enjoyment and my kids love playing the matches with me playing alongside them. Although they sometimes complain I’m trying too hard; or not hard enough depending on whose team I’m on. I love playing alongside them and think it’s particularly important for my daughter to get involved and see me playing to demonstrate that it’s normal for women to do sport.’

Not to be out done, Sarah’s dad had quite a special 60th birthday last month as she explains:

"To celebrate his 60th he organised a hockey day! He booked the pitch for the day and invited teams from his current club and Army vets to join in. We had planned to finish the day with a mixed game so all three generations could play together; my dad, brother (who had never played hockey before), myself, Amber and Zach. Unfortunately my dad had to sit out so we didn’t quite manage it, however he is visiting soon and bringing his hockey kit so we plan to get us playing together at the Family Night.’

We also spoke to The Walton family and they explain how this time it was the young people who got the parents playing.

HockeyFest Family 2 

The Walton family had no prior experience of playing hockey until 2009 when West Bridgford HC offered taster sessions to local schools. James, the eldest son and in year six at the time, attended the after school sessions before going along to the clubs junior sessions. Later to be joined by his younger brother, Robert, as soon as he was old enough.

Fast forward to the 2012/13 season and James makes his debut, now playing in goal, for the Men’s 10th team. This was to be the catalyst for his parents to start playing as his dad Simon explains;

"As James was playing I had the pleasurable task of supporting and transporting him around the county on a Saturday afternoon. Within that 10th team, there was a 53 year age range between James and the oldest player. There can’t be many sports where players of such differing ages can play competitively alongside each other. After a few weeks, as I stood there watching, I started to think that maybe I could give it a go too. The club informed us of the Family Nights over the summer and we all decided to go along and give it a go. This was the first time that either myself or my wife, Louise, had picked up a hockey stick.

After enjoying the family sessions I decided to go for it and joined the Men’s 10th team as a defender. James had been moved up to the Men’s 9th team, but I did manage to play a few games with him when I played temporarily for the 9’s. Although it was strange to find my 14 year old son ordering me around the pitch when the other team attacked. Louise also continued by attending the clubs Back to Hockey sessions and also played a couple of matches at the end of the season.
Since turning 13 in March, Robert was also able to join me in the Men’s 10th team for our last match of the season. It’s also been great to play in the mixed friendlies at the club as we have all been able to play in the same match, which is very unique in sport. It also makes for some friendly banter around the dinner table afterwards, especially if we have been put on opposing teams.
Hockey has changed our lives for the better. It has given us a hobby that we can all participate in and support each other, even when we are not playing together. Saturday is now hockey day and we all look forward to sharing our different match reports over the dinner table. Our only regret is that we did not discover hockey sooner. Neither Louise or I had played any sports during our adult lives, so if we can do it, anybody can. It is a great sport for the whole family and we would urge anybody to give it a go and get involved. Not only does your fitness improve but your social life does too and you are never short of something to talk about."
Thank you to the Aaron's and the Walton’s for sharing their stories and if your family wants a great day out, why not find your local HockeyFest event here.