Leicester City Hockey Club is helping to provide game-changing support off the field after throwing its doors open to the local community.
In April 2019, the club took ownership of their home at St Margaret's Pastures Sports Centre after years on the road at venues across the city.
Now fully focused on developing its charitable arm, the club is offering care groups and charities a base to support their residents as well as partnering with a local school.
“The big thing we really want to do is make sure that the venue is used during the day because there’s a lot of charities that are very keen on daytime interventions and projects,” said Sarah Treanor, Leicester City’s first team manager.
“Thursday is our community day, so we've linked with Leicester City in the Community, who are one of our partners.
“There's all sorts of delivery with different client groups including homeless people, asylum seekers and a group called New Arrivals, which are people that are brand new to this country.
“They come to the venue and maybe play a bit of football and have some food as part of the arrangement with that charity. We know that people might be in a lot of turmoil and we're not fixing your life, but what we might be doing is giving you an hour a week where things aren't so bad.
“We’re trying to give those organisations a bit of a leg up to deliver their service, work with other groups and help people.”
Plans are in place to expand the provision, while the club is also in the process of launching its own charity to create an opportunities fund.
They have also formed partnerships with four local schools including Castle Mead Academy thanks to the Commonwealth Games legacy fund, allowing children to pick from a range of after school activities including hockey.
“Castle Mead is a new secondary school in the city and their enthusiasm is boundless. The after school hockey provision is a delivery to energetic students who may have never otherwise played or seen hockey and it’s great that we can engage them in something different and give them the chance to learn a new sport. In time we hope we can excite the students by holding a festival and some fixtures and show them our venue and our pitch eventually leading to players choosing hockey as their hobby and something they want to pursue on weekends.”
While the six-time winners of the Women’s Premier Division are vying for promotion back to the top-flight, Treanor suspects diversifying is key to success across the board.
“If you look at the hockey provision, there's a lot of people competing purely to get the same players in their club,” she said.
“Growing the club and growing the offer is publicity. Sustainability isn't just about one particular group of people, it’s about who uses your venue, who feels that it caters to them and who finds a use for it.
“I think people moan about hockey being for a very particular group of people or a thin section of the population and I don't think that will change until you get more participation in different ways.
“If people are participating at the fringes, there's a chance they might then get involved.”
Leicester’s very own Maddie Hinch put the finishing touches to a glittering international career with gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games as medal-winning performances from the men’s and women’s teams raised the profile of the sport.
And Treanor hopes that next summer’s Olympic Games can prove just as transformative.
“Success opens a window to put some building blocks in and I think that the Commonwealth Games definitely gave us that opportunity," she added.
“Now it's up to us as clubs and various facilities to build a foundation for something for the next Games."
The England Hockey Commonwealth Games Legacy programme ran across a number of projects across the West Midlands and gave a wide variety of people access to hockey that had never experienced it before.