Initiative proving a success in helping more girls to take up sport

England Hockey are encouraging more girls to take up sport through Team Up initiative. 

Alexandra Smart, coach at Hampstead and Westminster Hockey Club, tutored a group of teachers on behalf of England Hockey for a three-hour workshop today in Wimbledon Club.

Team Up is an initiative between England Hockey, England Cricket and England Netball, to encourage more people, mainly girls aged 11-16, to start playing sport by engaging and training teachers in London.

They were awarded over £650,000 by Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST) in May to provide the initiative within the London boroughs and provide local delivery support for London schools and additional opportunities for young girls to participate in sport.

Speaking at the workshop, Ms Smart said: “We’re not overly fussy about which sport they ultimately take up.

“A lot of the skills are transferable between them.”

During the workshop, teachers spoke of their experiences in teaching sport and shared tips and techniques, from how to make the sessions fun and engaging to how to build confidence within a group, whilst keeping organised and structured.

To date, over 1,000 schools have signed up to do teacher sessions.

Ms Smart said: “What we do is teach more teachers and clubs to deliver hockey. The more people you’ve got delivering it, the more people hopefully will be playing it.

“We’ve got teachers from schools with all different backgrounds, some are teaching a lunch club, some delivering P.E., all with varying experience of hockey as a sport.

“We try and teach them a game-based approach, so they don’t need to know a lot of technical skills, but just encourage people to get into the game and learn the skills as they go.

“The feedback has been good, we’ve seen a lot more players coming into club level. At the club I’m at, we’ve gone from three children to 420 children in the past five years.”

The Women’s Hockey World Cup, hosted by England at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, is taking place this July.

Ms Smart praised the legacy of the Olympics and the upcoming Women’s Hockey World Cup in encouraging more women to take up sport.

She said: “Particularly after the last Olympics, we had a huge influx of girls, especially at the under-12 level, so it’s been great for them to start building a team together, getting to know new people, and learning so many skills beyond just hockey.

“The earlier you start the better, but it doesn’t really matter if you’re just picking up a stick for the first time or you’re just getting into your teenage years.

“The more you play, the quicker you’ll pick it up, but for some they just want to do something sociable, get some exercise, meet some new people. That’s the nice thing about the sport, there’s something for everybody.

“It’s been so male dominated for so long it’s nice to see the top ladies’ teams televised for a change and actually getting the recognition that they deserve.

“In every sport there’s no reason why girls aren’t playing it as well as boys, even in hockey we see the girls dominating over the boys, right up to over-18 level.”

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