Small Sided Hockey format to be piloted by Universities

Small Sided Uni Image

The Small Sided Hockey project, funded by Sport England and delivered in partnership with BUCS, is set to run pilot schemes in institutions across the country throughout the coming academic year before launching a full product for the 2016/17 season. The project seeks to develop the 5 and 6-a-side version of the game with offers ranging from Intra-Mural leagues and social sessions through to high-level BUCS competitions – emphasising the fast-paced, attacking nature of the sport throughout.

The project will launch officially on 30th September 2015, when teams from the BUCS Premiership A tier of hockey (including Durham, Nottingham, Birmingham, Oxford Brookes, Sheffield Hallam and Loughborough) come together in Nottingham for a Small Sided pre-season tournament. This will form a key step in shaping the pilot programmes as the best players in the BUCS league compete in the tournament and will provide valuable feedback on the form of the game. This feedback will aid the development of the rules and experience before the project is rolled out on a wider scale.

UK-wide universities are already holding discussions with BUCS to pilot events for the sport, include Leeds, Nottingham and Bath. Universities such as Bristol, Manchester and Exeter are also considering potential opportunities to trial the format and early plans are being discussed for a LUSL-focused Small Sided Hockey Festival to be held in London later this academic year. With each pilot having a different angle, and feedback being gathered from participants throughout, these events will shape the development of a final product which will be introduced across the sector from next summer, ultimately creating further opportunities to participate and compete in hockey.

BUCS interim Chief Executive, Mark Brian comments “BUCS are very excited to be leading this pioneering project with partners England Hockey and Sport England.  The development of a small sided, fast-paced game of hockey has huge potential to be a key solution to engaging hockey player’s post-school to ensure the retention of a large playing base.

The showcase launch event, hosted by the University of Nottingham at the Nottingham Hockey Centre, will be exciting to receive feedback and thoughts on how to further enhance the project and maximise its potential from some of the best young hockey players in the country. BUCS would like to take this opportunity to thank all the universities that are supporting this event and we look forward to developing this project with our partners over the next two years.”

Rich Beer, Development Director for England Hockey, added "We are delighted to be organising an event that will allow the best University players to pit themselves against each other on the same day in the same place. This forms part of England Hockey's strategy of encouraging more ways to play the game and we hope it will provide inspiration to University Intra Mural programmes and other local competition programmes to change their game to make it easier to access."

With the International Hockey Federation also investigating the Small Sided game and keeping a close eye on the project, there is a genuine opportunity for this project and BUCS to have a long-term impact on the future of hockey at both a national and international level.

If you would like any more information about the Small Sided Hockey Project or are interested in the pilot schemes please contact Greg Sturge, Small Sided Hockey Manager for BUCS at Greg.Sturge@bucs.org.uk.