• Spirit of Hockey

#FlyerzWeek - London Wayfarers, Providing Hockey For Everyone

Over 50 Clubs across the country offer Flyerz Hockey for their local community. This includes 19 clubs who have introduced Flyerz since the start of the Covid pandemic. One of these clubs is London Wayfarers HC (LWHC) who since introducing Flyerz sessions in September 2020 have grown to now offering twice weekly sessions to 22 players and their families.

Fi Lloyd-Willams, Head of Flyerz at the club kindly shares their experience and we thank Nick Cornwall for providing the imagery.

Why did the club want to offer Flyerz and how was it set up?

Like many clubs London Wayfarers HC is keen to continue to extend the provision of hockey to more people, and locally there was no Flyerz offering, so it seemed like a great place to have an impact. 

LW Flyerz is supported across the club.  To get this programme established we decided to “ring fence” the core resource, so we were free to focus on Flyerz, and not be distracted by the busyness of other core club activities.  We created the role, Head of Flyerz, which is the role I occupy.  Historically I have done many different roles across the Junior section and Back to Hockey, however I now only focus on Flyerz, and building a strong and successful section.  I also do not deliberately sit on the Exec, so that I can be “single minded” about getting Flyerz sustainable, and not distracted by competing resources. 

What did Flyerz look like in the beginning?

In the start we were not sure what the right model was, with some of it was driven by pitch and volunteer coach availability.  So, we decided to trial alternate Monday and Wednesday early evenings, in two different locations, to see if anybody would & could attend.  We did not know if anybody would attend the first session and were willing to run like that for a month. However, four Flyerz participated on the first Monday, and five the following Wednesday, four of whom were different to the prior Monday due to the different location or night of the week.

Photo Credit: Nick Cornwall

How did lockdowns effect Flyerz sessions?

We launched Sept 2020, so there were great learnings from other Flyerz sections, when Covid winter struck.  Appreciating many were vulnerable we offered a Monday zoom session, but only about 1/3 found that a suitable medium.  We also found a local school that was open for key workers, and they allowed us to continue weekly Wednesday session on their playground, throughout Lockdown 3.  Which was amazing.

Coming out of Lockdown 3, and having moved to twice weekly during it, we were keen to continue.  We went into Lockdown 3 with 15 Flyerz attending, and across the summer term grew to 22. We have been fortunate to also deliver in-school sessions during June / July to two different local SEN schools.  

What impact has Flyerz had?

The challenge with Flyerz is the connections and the relationships you build, and the impact you have on participants lives and that of their families so quickly.  Therefore, you never want to not have the capacity to allow someone new to join in. Hence from September we are increasing capacity and having a younger and older session.

I’d never imagined hockey would be something my profoundly disabled sons would be able to take part in, let alone something they might enjoy, but several weeks on after an initial Flyerz pan-disability taster session, both they, sometimes their younger sister, a willing carer and I find ourselves running up and down a floodlit hockey pitch, chasing after a ball with a stick – in all weathers – with our new hockey buddies, being cheered on by the team of fantastic London Wayfarers Flyerz coaches and volunteers! The boys and my daughter have been warmly welcomed into the Flyerz family, the coaches and volunteers have taken the boys & disabilities in their stride and enable them to participate just as much as anyone else.

How have you been able to develop so quickly and what are your future plans?

We have been able to support the growth in sessions due to an army of volunteers, from both existing club volunteers, coaches, and players (teenagers and adults), and attracted others from outside the club who were keen to be part of this - coaches, photographer, social media, corporate funding…. Once you get involved, you truly want to stay involved. To the army of volunteers on and off the pitch we are truly thankful.  

Going forward we are keen to continue to grow LW Flyerz. We need to get the word out there more; do we establish stronger connections with local SEN schools; local disability charities; offer a weekend session; new geographic locations… We are willing to build capacity in incremental blocks, and believe that if we create the capacity, we will be able to fill it.  All the participants love it and are keen to continue.

Photo Credit: Nick Cornwall

Thank you again to Fi for sharing London Wayfarers Flyerz story and to Nick for the images.

If your club would like to find out more about Flyerz, we are hosting an informal Zoom session, with Access Sport, on the evening of Monday 13 September 19:00-20:00, for clubs who want to find out a little more about Flyerz Hockey, how it could work at their club and to hear from other clubs about their experience. To sign up please click here: Flyerz Hockey Club Webinar Sign Up.

For Flyerz Players and Families, you can find out more and where to #PickUpAStick in the Play section of our website.

Change Starts Together, England Hockey’s very first Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Conference is taking place on Tuesday 2 November, to find out more and sign up for a free space, click here: https://www.englandhockey.co.uk/media/news/sign-up-for-change