It’s Christmastime again – it seems to come round more quickly each year and we have already reached the mid-point of our 60th season! The results so far show good fortunes for our Ladies – the 1st XI in 5th place and more than holding their own in the Premier Division, the 2nd XI are on course for promotion being equal top with Dragons in Division 2. Mixed fortunes for the Men though – the 1st XI are 2nd in Division 4, whilst the 2nd XI are 3rd from bottom in Division 5.
These statistics are a reflection of our lack of ‘active’ players on the Men’s side especially. Rob and Matt have struggled to regularly field two teams. This is not surprising given that the pool of players to draw from is about 25. It does not take too many ‘unavailables’ to create a mass of effort, particularly for Matt, to find enough players. So I urge everybody to please do everything you can to be available every Saturday – it is the minimum the Club expects from our membership. Do not play hard to get, leave it late to confirm availability or cry off last minute.
The situation has been compounded because 2 of our own umpires refuse to umpire our Men because of the abuse they have received – either directly or indirectly. Abuse of any umpire is poor form, but to abuse umpires that belong to our Club, who are our friends and are part of our hockey family, is unforgivable. So whilst, the difficulties apply particularly to the men, I ask that high on the list of our New Year resolutions is to be available every week, respond immediately to the call up message, and no matter what you might think of the umpires, keep your mouth shut!
On a more positive note, 2018 is going to be a year of 2 exciting actions. First is our 60th Anniversary celebrations which Kevin Barnard is putting together for existing members, and hopefully a good number of people formerly connected with the Club in whatever capacity. Details will follow as the spring matches unfold – keep your ears and diaries open!
Second, is an effort to increase the numbers of people of all ages to come and play hockey. We have applied for a grant from Sport England and, as I write, we await the result of that application. The grant is to help us attract 14 year olds and above. We want to run after school sessions/clubs, hold tournaments, encourage past players back to hockey, attract parents, friends, and anybody of any age or ability to use hockey as a way of keeping fit and healthy.
The objective is of course to increase our membership and thus our playing numbers. We want to revive a girls Development team, start a boys Development team and ultimately introduce a 3rd XI for both Ladies and Men. We intend to work with Lowestoft Ladies on this project, combining certain resources. We will also be continuing and expanding the work we do with Primary Schools though this is outside the scope of the grant. For all of this we will need a lot of kit and above all we will need people (you!). We have to expand our coaching resource and part of the grant is for that.
Do not for a moment think that by working with Lowestoft Ladies we are thinking about a merger. Absolutely not. However, they share the same challenges we do concerning maintaining/increasing playing numbers and the need to secure a playing facility for the medium term future. This project will naturally create a significant hockey hub at EPA which will demonstrate the importance of the astroturf facility to England Hockey, the Inspiration Trust, Nuffield Health and the Local Authority to name a few – the facility due to historical loss of clubs and teams (not just Hockey) is being used less and less.
Please do all you can to actively support the Club and the work that needs to happen during 2018 (and beyond). Whilst, as I have said earlier, being available to play on a Saturday is a minimum requirement, the Club cannot survive if its future is left to just a faithful few. On behalf of the Committee, I wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas and let’s make 2018 a year to remember.
IMPORTANT DATES: TRAINING RESTARTS – WEDNESDAY 3RD JANUARY 2018
Updated 19:44 - 11 Jan 2018 by Jamie Ayers
60TH ANNIVERSARY DAY AND PRESENTATION EVENING – SATURDAY 14TH APRIL 2018