Scottish Hockey pilots Junior Aspire Cup

Posted On 10/01/2023

Scottish Hockey availed of EuroHockey Solidarity Funding to support a pilot new school competition – the Junior Aspire Cup – to target increased participation from state schools with a focus on the 12-14 age range. 

Given the impact of Covid and Scottish state school budgets restricted at the current time, the first phase of the programme looked at the delivery of regional rounds, to make it easier for schools to access local gameplay. 

 

Junior Aspire Cup:

 

As part of this offer, Scottish Hockey’s Domestic Game Team agreed not to charge any school either Scottish Hockey affiliation or competition entry fees for these events, to again reduce barriers to participation. 

The event was played in an 8-a-side, half-pitch format to allow schools with small squads to enter teams. 

The intention was to deliver regional rounds in the first half of the school year (linked to the Regional Development Manager’s geographical areas), with all schools who attended the regional rounds, then invited to a national event in spring 2023. 

The national event will be tiered so that all participating schools would then get additional games based on their regional results, ideally matching up with schools of similar standards.   

Prior to Christmas, four regional events were organised in Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, and Elgin with over 110 participants from 12 schools playing in the first two of those events. 

Scottish Hockey collaborated successfully with local partners (e.g. Active Schools teams, schools, clubs, and local authorities) to obtain facilities for free.   

Although they have offered participation at no cost, transport costs continue to be a significant barrier for schools and so felt the most appropriate use of the first part of the EuroHockey Solidarity Grant was to help subsidise travel for schools who had to travel further than 90 kilometers to attend. 

Travel subsidies of £100, £150, or £200 were awarded depending on how many teams’ schools entered or whether they were able to share transport.  Eight schools will receive subsidies with the majority of those schools being able to share transport costs. 

The second portion of the EHF grant is intended to help cover facilities costs for the larger event in spring 2023. 

Feedback from all schools so far has been overwhelmingly positive, with teams enjoying the opportunity to play multiple gameswith many schools very keen to participate in the next phase. 

For many schools, this was the first time they had participated in a Scottish Hockey delivered event, and many participants had not played hockey before the start of the school year. 

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