Sport England Annual Review gives status update on hockey participation

A group of children playing hockey

Sport England has announced the results of its annual review for hockey, which informs funding contributions for the coming year. England Hockey is pleased to have achieved its first year targets in three of the four elements that determine funding from Sport England.

The three areas where targets were achieved are age 26+ participation, talent development, and in the core funding that is provided for the governance of the sport. However, England Hockey has been judged to have missed its 14-25 participation target as measured by the Active People Survey. In line with its payments for results approach Sport England has reduced funding by £137,000 on the overall £12 million of funding initially awarded for the 2013-17 period.

England Hockey’s Chief Executive Sally Munday commented: “We are very supportive of the Sport England strategy that reflects one of our key strategic aims to grow participation in hockey. Whilst we’ve received a small cut in funding based on one targeted area, we are pleased that Sport England has also directly restated to us that they believe we have the right strategy and back the plans we have in place to meet our shared goals. We are confident from our other measures that we are growing the number of people playing hockey, working in partnership with our clubs and other hockey providers. This is clear from our growth in affiliated teams for the 2013/14 season and participation in specific initiatives such as Back to Hockey and Rush Hockey.”

Phil Smith, Director of Sport at Sport England said: "We are supportive of England Hockey's plans and completely confident in their team. We do not think they are doing much wrong, but we are concerned about the numbers of young people playing the sport and want to work with England Hockey to look at how they can grow this particular age group."

Sally Munday expanded on the challenges for team sports, and the positive progress being made: "I have been asked how can the SE measurement say one thing and the England Hockey information say something different and I think it is important to make this very clear - The Active People Survey is based on a sample that measures the frequency and consistency of participation by asking how many times has someone played in the last 28 days. The challenge for hockey is that there is increasing recognition that behavioural habits in team sport are becoming less consistent and, whilst we know the actual number of people playing hockey regularly is increasing, this is not always every week.

“From our perspective it’s great to see how hockey clubs are becoming more flexible in providing opportunities for people to play on their own terms. This demonstrates that we are listening to our players and helping the sport grow the overall numbers playing hockey, and really importantly it is also helping clubs to ensure they are sustainable. We will of course continue our focus on the vital 14-25 age group and aim to hit the targets we agreed with Sport England, to secure that element of investment in hockey.”

The 14-25 age group presents a challenge to many sports as key life transitions for young people can fundamentally change their participation habits. England Hockey’s measures demonstrate that there are more people playing hockey than before the 2012 Olympics. More than 40,000 of our club players are 14-25 and both the past two years have seen increases in number of teams participating weekly in hockey.

England Hockey is also delivering Rush Hockey in 77 Further Education colleges and 30 Higher Education establishments this year, aiming to provide more flexible ways to play the game. University participation in British Universities and intra-mural hockey remains high with around 10,000 regular participants playing our sport.

There are promising signs in the under 14 age group also with clear evidence that the success of the 2012 Olympics has inspired a new generation of hockey players, with participation in clubs up by 25% on 2010/11. Continuing to inspire these children and thus retain them in the sport is important.

England Hockey is always keen to hear player and club views. If you have a view on 14-25 participation in hockey, please email ceo@englandhockey.co.uk  

Are you a player? We currently have a player survey in circulation which we’ll be using to inform our future decision-making. Fill it out here.

Are you a club committee member? You views on our club survey would be very much appreciated. Fill out the club survey here.