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Hockey: England teams chase Euro gold as sport booms

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 August 2017

England's women are hosting the World Cup in 20188 (picc Rodrigo Jaramillo/England Hockey)

England's women are hosting the World Cup in 20188 (picc Rodrigo Jaramillo/England Hockey)

APURAFOTO - WSP

Participation increases as result of Olympic legacy

Olympic gold medalist Crista Cullen meets excited youngstersOlympic gold medalist Crista Cullen meets excited youngsters

England’s women begin the defence of their EuroHockey Championship title in Amsterdam today – one year on from the Great Britain team’s Olympic gold in Rio.

Having also seen the women win bronze at the London 2012 Games, England Hockey has witnessed unprecedented growth at both ends of the age range, clearly benefitting from their Olympic legacy.

Hundreds of club continue to offer inviting, easy access, aided by projects such as HockeyFest and Back to Hockey, which help create an open door policy for all ages.

As a result the average club size has grown 54 per cent, with a 110 per cent increase in under-16s club participation in London and a 111 per cent growth in the North West.

England captains Phil Roper, George Pinner and Ian Sloane (pic Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for GB Hockey)England captains Phil Roper, George Pinner and Ian Sloane (pic Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for GB Hockey)

Chief executive Sally Munday said: “When London was awarded the 2012 Games, we saw it as a huge opportunity for the sport, and I believe our strategy has taken full advantage of the platform that we have been given with this double Olympic legacy.

“In particular I am of course delighted to see the growing numbers of both young girls and boys because they are the future of our sport. Hockey is hugely accessible to both genders and all ages, as also shown by the rise in number of players over 46.

“With participation growth, back-to-back Olympic medals and a home World Cup on the horizon, there are a great number of reasons to be very optimistic about hockey’s future.”

Development director Rich Beer added: “Across the board we are seeing excellent growth, which is the result of a concerted, sustainable strategy.

“Through Quicksticks we have assisted primary schools’ access to hockey, and our clubs & volunteers continue to provide fantastic experiences.

“New people are joining the sport, and crucially we are seeing people return to hockey, often the parents of a young player which makes for an outstanding family experience.

“With the invaluable assistance of Sport England, the results are even more pleasing given that the sports marketplace is becoming much more competitive than ever before. All concerned have done a fantastic job in bringing this growth to fruition, and now we have a great opportunity to sustain it for years to come.”

Rio gold medalist Alex Danson, the England women’s captain, said: “These numbers genuinely come as wonderful news to me and every one of my team-mates. We set out to Inspire The Future, and to learn that there are so many more boys and girls playing since before London is absolutely amazing.

“Nothing makes me quite as proud as winning a gold medal – but honestly these figures come pretty close! With a home women’s World Cup in London next summer, the opportunity for sustained growth has never been greater.”

England’s women face Ireland in their first match in Holland today (Saturday, 1.45pm), then meet Germany on Sunday (4.45pm) and Scotland on Tuesday (11.30am).

The men start their bid against Poland on Sunday (8am), then also face Germany on Monday (4pm) and Ireland on Wednesday (1.45pm).

All matches take place at the Wagener Stadium and will be shown live on BT Sport.

Anyone wishing to try hockey or get back into the sport can visit englandhockey.co.uk/playhockey or find their nearest HockeyFest event online.

The 2018 Women’s World Cup ticket ballot opens today for fans to register for next summer’s event, which runs from July 21-August 5. Visit fih.ch/events/world-cup/world-cup-2018/events/ticket-sign-up-form.

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