In preparation for the announcement of the 2015 Club of the Year winners, we are catching up with our 2014 winners. We last featured GD Viso and this week we are catching up with Old Silhillians Hockey Club, who won the Large category.

What progress have you made in your development plan since you received the award?

We have been making steady progress against our Development Plan. Our Men’s 5th team has played more fixtures, and we are hopefully looking to enter it into the League next year; we have many of our youngsters assisting with our Junior training and developing their coaching and umpiring; planning for our 2nd pitch has commenced; our juniors are playing almost twice as many matches as they did in the previous year, increasing opportunities for all; the website is now used regularly by all – with the club now regularly in the top 5 Hockey Clubs in terms of site visits/rankings of those using the main website “engine” in the UK (Pitchero) and also supported by a very active Facebook page and 2 Twitter accounts.

Club of the Year 2014 Old Sils

What does the award mean to you now?

The award has been fantastic to allow us to gain greater exposure within the hockey community – we now have clubs from all over the Country knowing who we are, and has also enabled us to have a great showpiece for our brand new clubhouse which was completed earlier this year. Shortly after winning the European Award, we were also lucky enough to be awarded the England Hockey Club of the Year as well, so that meant we had a fantastic Summer of 2015 – topped off by being presented the award at the same time as the England girls were being crowned European Champions!

How did winning the award impact your day to day activities?

The most significant impact has been with some of our longer-standing members; they have always enjoyed playing for the club, but many who have played for over 30 years are now immensely proud that the club they have given so much of their life to has been recognised in such a way. Our older players have been rejuvenated and it is fantastic to hear the way in which they talk to their friends and family about the club now. It was also great to get a mention from our local Council Sports department, who often pay no attention to hockey, but this year gave the club a special mention at its annual awards!

Club of the Year 2014 Old Sils

How  how have you incorporate the award in your marketing strategy?

We were lucky enough to secure new sponsors off the back of the award and now have 5 teams resplendent in new kit, and with the EHF Club of the Year motif displayed proudly on the left breast of the shirts.  We are also in the process of bringing together all the sports sections at our club, and building a marketing campaign of the Sports Clubs as a whole, and this Award enables us to have a great story to promote the hockey section off. Finally, we held an evening to help celebrate the club’s success which saw current and past members of the club come along to share stories, and also welcomed the new Chairman of the England Hockey Board along to meet and socialise with our membership.

Has your club grown as a result of the award? 

Our Juniors continue to grow significantly – we have added a new U6 hockey section, which has well in excess of 40 new members, which has also brought their parents along – some of whom have come “Back to hockey” and are playing for our league sides now. We have also had new adult members join that have moved to the area and their first choice of club to contact is now us, as opposed to one of the other ones in the locality. We have grown to such an extent that we are now officially the biggest club in the whole of the West Midlands based on playing numbers.

Club of the Year 2014 Old Sils

How has the award helped you with your local community and volunteer force? 

We have strengthened our school links – we now run Satellite Clubs in 6 schools offering hockey on a weekly basis, plus also run more ad hoc programmes in another 4 or 5 schools; we have also continued supporting the local schools hockey competitions, and hosting local school matches at our club. We have a good number of the kids from the satellite clubs joining the main section within the club as well, which is always good. Our Flyerz offering continues to support the provision of Inclusive hockey to those of mixed disabilities in the area as well.

Club of the Year 2014 Old Sils

We have gained a couple of extra volunteers to umpire this year – and have courses planned for them to attend. We have also had a couple of parents attend Introduction to Coaching courses, and we are aiming on running an Introduction to Umpiring course for parents over the close-season as well. We continue to get more parents to help out with the non-hockey activities, keeping registers, providing first aid etc. – and it is amazing what a difference this makes when others bring their kids along and see how well organised everything is – it gives them real security in knowing that the welfare and development of their children whilst playing hockey is paramount. Happy children and happy parents are probably the best marketing vehicle you can have for your junior section!

Source: EHF/Stephen Tabb