From four mums to 74 members in under a year

Durham Dales founders
From four mums to 74 members all in under a year, meet the Durham Dales Hockey Club
In February, Sarah found some old plastic indoor hockey sticks and a small ball and thought it would be fun to invite some friends for a game of hockey. She invited Kirsty, Lucy and Alison along and as they were looking for a new way to get fit they decided that they would give it a go. 
“Getting into hockey was really an accident,” Sarah explains. “I found some plastic sticks and a ball (not a hockey ball!) and I thought it might be fun after seeing the recent success of the women winning Olympic gold in Rio.

"We booked our local 3G pitch and even though it was pouring with rain and there was only four of us we really enjoyed it! Then every week more and more people joined in. The support of Harriet Tebbs, our England Hockey Relationship Manager, has been instrumental in helping us grow and to get all the paperwork and insurance in place. 
“We have members from five to 55-years-old; they range from ex-county players, to those who played at school to those who had never played before.  We have men, women and children; we are like one big family!
“We had no money, no funds or anything so it has been a tough start to getting into the sport but we enjoy it so much we have just been driven to keep going.  Slowly, we started to replace the plastic sticks with hockey sticks and bought a few balls." 
The Durham Dales have built a partnership with Weardale Action Partnership, who has invested £400 which helped them buy a goal keepers kit. The nearest facility to them is a small 3G pitch so they cannot host any matches but is just about enough for training. 
But the future is bright for this new young club; they plan to affiliate this year and after some of their first ever games they plan to join a league next year. And importantly they have a space in the local pub for socialising after training!
“Other plans are to continue to fight for a pitch so can keep growing all our sections and help maintain our inclusive 'everyone plays' ethos. Unfortunately the large school hockey pitch they played on in the summer is earmarked for sale by Durham County Council so the group are currently displaced and are unable to play games at home or train on a full size pitch as there aren't any nearby.  The club is continuing to meet on the 3G pitch for now.
“We hope to continue to grow in our local area, working with schools and community groups to encourage others of all abilities and fitness levels to join. They have just applied for another grant for a storage unit, some goalie equipment for the juniors and some coaching.
“We are pleased we have just secured a sponsor of Peggotty’s of Wolsingham, this money will be used to provide a dry space for adults so they can still watch and support their children on wet Sundays." 

The junior section is growing rapidly and they have five of the ladies and men team volunteering to support their development.
Sarah - who works at the University of Sunderland as a Senior Lecturer - told the Northern Echo she cannot believe how far the club has come.
“I am amazed by how far we have come. To see all these people here on a Friday night playing hockey together when they could be at home with a glass of wine is just fantastic.”
They were shortlisted for Sports Club of the Year category in the County Durham Sport Physical Activity Awards and we want to wish them the best of luck! 
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