Following the announcement of the Club of the Year Winners, we are profiling each category winner on our site.
First up, Old Sihillians HC!
Old Sihillians HC has shown tremendous development in the last year. Their player membership grew 46% in 2014, and they now have a ParaHockey Flyerz programme, as well as coaches and umpiring training. OSHC is also planning to build more infrastructure, with hopes to build a second pitch.
We asked Old Sils to tell us more about the club, the players and the future.
First, a little history: The club was formed in 1929 – extract taken from The Hockey Museum’s records: “In 1929 a band of Old Boys from Solihull School met and formed the hockey Club. They played at Dingle Lane with changing accommodation at various local hostelries By March 1930 the club had two teams”
The club moved to its current ground (The Silhillians Sports Club in Copt Heath) in November 1966. There used to be 6 Grass pitches on site, and the club fielded up to 8 Men’s teams on a Saturday. The club’s most famous player was Roger Flood who was the England GK in the 1968 Olympics. In recent times, a pitch was laid in 2009 which allowed Old Sils to play all home matches and hold training at the club, and the site has recently seen a £1.8 million extension and refurbishment done to the clubhouse to introduce 12 new changing rooms as well as disabled facilities and access. The last two years has seen the formation of a Flyerz Inclusive Hockey section, and prior to that, the club re-started its Veterans section around 8 years ago.
How many players does your club currently have?
Currently at around 360, having been at less than 100 in 2008. We currently have 5 Men’s League Sides, 3 Ladies, 1 Saturday Development side and then age group teams at U8, U10, U12, U14 and U16 for both boys and girls. We also have a mid-week Men’s Veterans team, and enter the National Cup competitions for Men, Ladies and Mixed.
What is your club’s biggest achievement to date?
In 2014, the club won its first ever National Title, being crowned National Mixed Plate Champions. We are also very proud of the fact that we are the only club in England with 4 x Level 3 Qualified Umpires as part of its membership.
What does 2015 have in store for your club?
More of the same of recent years – a lot of work going into the infra-structure of the club to ensure that as we grow, we have all the correct supporting mechanisms for more hockey. We are looking to hire a Director of Hockey to focus on the Adult playing sections and the coaching with those teams, and also to hire a Community Coach to help deliver more hockey into more schools and clubs. In addition to that, we are looking to establish a wider base for our Flyerz programme, put further work into our specialised Young Leader/Coach programme, and do quite a lot more work around developing umpires for every level of the game (from U8s, through to 1st team). Finally, we are putting a lot of effort into strengthening our (already strong) Juniors set-up, by scheduling more games, looking at a more varied set of options for training, integrating more with local schools and looking to get some “Masterclass” sessions organised (hopefully linking up with some of the English Internationals and Olympians).
What main targets does your club have over the next 2- 3 years?
We are hoping to grow the Ladies section fairly significantly, as we have around 130 girls aged between 8-14 in our Junior membership, and this should align with work around aiming to get a second pitch at the club to cater for the various different options we offer for hockey (including Back to Hockey, Flyerz, a new Hockey Tots section we are hoping to start for Under 6s etc.)
The real drive for all of the work we do is to provide as much opportunity for as many people as possible to play hockey – hence we are focussing on keeping costs down as much as possible, working in the community as much as we can, and growing the number of teams we can support at the club.
What does winning the EHF Club of the Year (Large Clubs) award mean to your Club?
One of the biggest things that winning this award has given us, is the opportunity to say Thank You to all the volunteers who have given up their time for the club, particularly in recent years, to help grow and strengthen what we had. This award is a recognition of the endless hours of admin, the numerous phone calls and emails, and the hundreds of conversations held with different parents and players. Moving forwards, we hope that the award will also help with the marketing of the club – as we have people who live within 2 or 3 miles of the site, and still have no idea that hockey is played here! As hockey continues to get more press and recognition in England, we also hope that this might lead to more exposure in newspapers and the local press, and this hopefully in turn will lead to more sponsorship, more members, more spectators and more volunteers – helping us to continue to grow the sport we all love.