Hockey club to reach out to local schools
4:47pm Monday 2nd September 2013 in Sport
THIS Saturday, September 7, sees the start of one of the most important seasons in Penarth Hockey Club’s103-year history.
Following the agony of last season's late relegation, Penarth 1st XI compete in the Davis Wood Hockey League De Cymru and The Marches Division 1, a league they dominated the season before. New captain Mark Thomas will look to repeat that dominance through a combination of superior skills and fitness, allied with an unquestionable team and work ethic. This aim has received an enormous boost by the appointment of the highly-rated and much sought-after Chris Baker as 1st team coach.
The challenge facing Penarth 2nd XI is somewhat different. Following promotion to the Davis Wood Hockey League De Cymru Division 2, a season blighted by under achievement and inconsistency was only salvaged on the last day when a victory against old rivals Whitchurch secured Penarth’s place in the division at the expenses of their opponents.
This season, the club – sponsored by Scafftag and David Baker – will continue to field a development side as and when opponents can be secured and have ‘launched’ a veterans’ team for those aged 40 and over.
The demise of hockey in schools has led to a serious shortage of new players taking up the game and joining the club to progress through the various sides. The work of James Davies and his team of junior coaches has attempted to address this shortfall but with limited success in terms of producing players with the potential to play for the senior men’s teams.
Penarth is the only field hockey club in the Vale and, as such, is in an enviable position to benefit from all the potential untapped talent in Penarth, Barry and the Vale.
Consequently, in parallel to the continuing junior development activities, the club has appointed Matt Birch as schools' liaison officer with the brief to reach out to the schools in the area, both junior and secondary, in an attempt to generate a desire to play the game.
In the absence of a suitable artificial playing surface in Penarth, the club continues to play its home games in Barry. When hockey was played on grass, the Penarth club played all its home games on pitches at Penarth Athletic Field. It must be over 20 years ago now that hockey switched to an astro turf game and the club have been waiting all that time for a suitable pitch to be laid in Penarth.
There have been a number of 'false dawns;' many years ago Stanwell School was granted restricted permission to lay a pitch but the restrictions made it non viable; the new education complex at St Cyres is being given an artificial pitch 'suitable for all sports' but, despite early discussions, the 3G pitch chosen is unsuitable for hockey.
The club’s hope now is that Stanwell School will be able to lay a pitch/pitches and become a regional hockey hub in the next few years as it has a very good relationship with the school dating back many years even to the time when it was a Penarth Grammar School.
The club always welcomes new, old and returning players, umpires, supporters, friends and helpers of whatever age and ability.
Training on the Barry Sports Centre astro turf takes place every Wednesday (juniors, 6-7pm; seniors, 7-8pm).
Further information can be obtained from secretary Dave Stevens – firstname.lastname@example.org