With the first week of junior training under our belts I caught up with Phil Hope, Lead junior coach and Junior Club Captain to have a chat and ask some questions about what’s happening for juniors this season;
Q: I can see we’ve had a few tweaks to the training times for juniors this season, what’s behind this? A: Two key things; firstly we have continued to see our thriving junior section grow, which is brilliant. We want to ensure that as many children as possible get the chance to play this great sport, and to do that we needed to make a few small changes to timings. Secondly, England Hockey have been restructuring over the last 12 months and this has changed the way we play, from the national leagues all the way through to the junior age groups. We have therefore planned our training to match this structure of U8s, U10s, U12s, U14s, U16s and U18s.
Q: Talking about leagues, will there be competitions or leagues for the juniors to get involved in this year? A: Absolutely yes, it’s really important that juniors have the chance for game play as well as the weekly training sessions. There are a number of different ways to do this and we want to ensure every child has the opportunity to get involved at the appropriate ability level. There are now 4 levels of junior competition which reflect the 4 England Hockey tiers. As a club we have entered junior teams into the England Hockey Championships, which are a national knockout competition (Tier 1), the first round is on the 3rd October. We are also entering the NorthWest regional league, (Tiers 1 and 2), and the Lancashire leagues (Tiers 3 and 4. These are run as a league with a series of games across the season in the various age groups. For the U14 and U16 age groups the first games will start on 26th September, other age group games will be later in the season, dates to be confirmed.
Q: That sounds like a lot of opportunity but how will the juniors get selected? A: The weekly training sessions give us a regular opportunity to see how juniors are developing and identify the best competition squads/ teams for them to be a part of. For the initial EH competition & the North West league, as it’s so early in the season, we are running two additional sessions on Monday 13th September and Monday 20th September from 6:30pm to give additional training to all juniors who want to take part, and a chance for coaches to make their selections. All invites to these sessions come through Teamo, so make sure you have updated the app, and turned on notifications. If you can’t see the session details and feel like you should have received the invite please contact me, Phil Hope, via teamo or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Q: It sounds like there’s a lot of opportunity for all levels of Junior, how do we spot potential in our juniors and help them progress at pace? A: As you say, there is opportunity at all levels, and it’s really important to us that everyone enjoys their hockey and feels part of the Fylde family regardless of level of experience or capability. However, we have an ambition that our 1st team players of the future are developed from our talented juniors of tdoay. This is why we have created the Junior Performance programme led by Chris Simcock, our head of coaching and performance. The aim of this programme is to develop young players both physically and mentally. Juniors who demonstrate a high level of future potential are invited to become part of the performance programme. We know that progression happens at different times in juniors therefore we review this group every term to ensure we offer places on this programme to the right children at the right time in their development.
Q: It sounds like there is a lot going on, how do we best keep up to date with the latest information? A: I agree that it sounds like a lot, but we aim to make it as simple as possible. Information comes through 3 platforms, Teamo, the website, and social media. We aim to have consistent information across all 3 platforms, please make sure you update the Teamo app on a regular basis, follow us on social media and visit the latest news on the website. As soon as we have confirmation from England Hockey on all the competition and fixture dates we will put a summary calendar on the website so there is an easy to access reference for everyone to see , and of course coaches are always happy to answer questions at the weekly sessions. There is one question you haven’t asked me which I would like to answer and that is about the organisation and volunteer opportunities that makes all these programmes actually happen. At Fylde H.C. we are lucky to have an amazing community of willing volunteers and I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped us so far to make this the thriving junior group that it is today. However, we always need more help, so please, if you are a parent who is willing to offer their help, either on competition day or in the administration that happens behind the scenes, please do let me or one of the coaches know. The more support we have, the more competitions and events we can enter.