4. Leaflets Distributed with TLA

Cirencester Hockey Club's junior section going from strength to strength

All Areas > Sport > Hockey

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Thursday, 9th December 2021, 09:00

Cirencester have more than 300 juniors playing hockey at their club Cirencester have more than 300 juniors playing hockey at their club

Ask those in the know at Cirencester Hockey Club to define the term ‘unsung hero’ and there’s a good chance that some will say “Ian Harvey”.

For those who aren’t in the know, Ian Harvey started the now thriving junior section of Cirencester Hockey Club 30 years ago.

And if you look at the number who are part of that set-up now – in the 100s – then it’s not hard to see why he is held in such high regard at the club.

His work these days is being continued by Andrew Raphael, who took over from Harvey as the junior coordinator at the go-ahead club, a role that Raphael readily admits takes up a considerable amount of his time.

Exactly how much time he devotes to Cirencester Hockey Club he’s not too sure.

“I’ve never tried to work it out,” said Raphael, who is also a player and a coach at the club. “If I did and my wife found out I think she’d have words!”

So what is the role of a junior coordinator?

“I’m a committee member and run the juniors,” he said. “That involves making sure we have coaches to coach the various age groups, making sure we put teams forward for the various leagues, festivals and tournaments.

“Essentially we’re trying to get as many kids as possible to play as much hockey as they can.”

And it has to be said that they’re doing a very good job because the club have more than 300 juniors signed up.

“We run mixed teams at under-8s but then we run teams for boys and girls at under-10, 12, 14, 16.” Raphael said.

By the time they reach the under-14s – and certainly by the time they are at under-16 level – there are opportunities to play with the seniors, with both the men and women able to field five teams at adult level.

That pathway is vital, of course.

“We try to integrate all the kids,” said Raphael. “The aim is to get as many of them into the senior teams as possible.

“The men’s 5th XI tends to be a development squad which is full of younger players. The plan is that they eventually transition into the higher level teams.”

It all sounds so straightforward, but it’s not quite that simple, of course, and it requires an awful lot of hard work – alongside plenty of fun – to make it all happen.

“We’ve got about 15 volunteers across all the juniors,” said Raphael, who coaches the under-10 boys and under-12 girls.

“We’ve got two main volunteers for each group and the parents are very supportive as well.

“We do rope them in to help a bit. Even if they’ve never played hockey they can still put out cones. It all helps, we’re all volunteers.”

Raphael’s son Oliver plays for the under-12s and while there are a good number of boys playing in the junior section, there are certainly a lot more girls.

“We would like more boys taking up the sport at a young age,” said Raphael. “It’s on our agenda, it’s something we’re focusing on for next season.

“We’ve got capacity for 40 in each squad but in reality we will always have more girls than boys because with boys we are competing against rugby and football.”

That’s not to say hockey can’t offer the same levels of excitement, skill and competition as rugby and football – it can – and Raphael is obviously a big supporter of all things hockey.

“The team aspect is the most important,” said Raphael, “it’s having that bit of banter.

“It’s a sport that you can be aggressive in but it’s a game of great skill and you have to do a lot of running, it’s great exercise.”

Raphael stopped playing the game for 20 years but these days is a regular member of Cirencester’s 4th XI.

“It’s a different game to when I first started playing,” he said. “We used to play on grass or gravel pitches, now with the pitches they play on it’s a smooth, fast game.

“The ball doesn’t bobble, it glides across the ground. I watch some of the better players play now and the skills they’ve got… I just love watching that.”

And the top brass at Cirencester Hockey Club like chairman Paul Anstee love having people like Andrew Raphael around to help drive the club forward.

While Raphael has become something of a fixture at the club, it looks like his son is there for the long-term too.

“He loves his hockey, absolutely loves it,” said his dad, who added, “Yes, Ian Harvey is an unsung hero, but so too are all the volunteers who contribute so much to the club.”

Copyright © 2022 The Local Answer Limited.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Local Answer Limited and thelocalanswer.co.uk with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

More articles you may be interested in...

The Local Answer. Advertise to more people in Gloucestershire
The Local Answer. More magazines through Gloucestershire doors

© 2022 The Local Answer Limited - Registered in England and Wales - Company No. 06929408
Unit H, Churchill Industrial Estate, Churchill Road, Leckhampton, Cheltenham, GL53 7EG - VAT Registration No. 975613000

Privacy Policy