A Merseyside hockey club secretary is calling for people who want to to get active to take up the sport.
Mossley Hill Hockey Club secretary Robert Cobourne says the sport is ideal for those wanting an alternative to football.
According to surveys by Sport England in 2022, football and netball are the two biggest sports in the country for men and women, with more than two million and 319,400 participants respectively. But hockey is only bringing under half netball’s numbers.
Cobourne thinks hockey clubs need to find a way to overcome the sport’s problem of people prioritising football.
He said: “We’ve got one particular lad who’s playing in one of our senior teams, who every week you ask if, he’s available. And it’s like, he’s got football first. And then he’s got to work it around football. I think the girls are similar.
However, as both sports field 11 players per team, those who aren’t particularly good at football may find hockey is the answer, according to Robert.
The 38-year-old explained: “It’s the same sort of positioning and same sort of movement, it’s closer to football than other sports.”
Football has a reputation from some of being a brutal game with abuse of officials and players being discarded at the forefront.
But hockey, according to the secretary, is different.
Robert said: “I’m not saying it’s super easy to get into, but people start playing hockey when they’re adults. I mean, you could never ever play football or something like that as an adult for the first time. Hockey is a lot more relaxed, friendly, supportive, people can play if they’re rubbish.
“We don’t have the luxury of being able to discard players. If people want to play, we’re made up, we’re desperate for them to play.”
One way a club can supply a constant stream of players is through their youth section and Mossley Hill Hockey Club are preparing to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of their junior set up in 2024.
“Prior to 2014 , we didn’t really have any kids playing hockey to be honest,” said Robert.
“It started because of a bunch of parents who all had kids, they sort of started up for their kids and their kids’ friends.”
He explained how the club has grown since.
He said: “It’s grown a lot, we get about 20 to 30 kids coming down on a Sunday morning, you know, and they’re pretty keen come rain or shine, they’re there.”
But growth is not the main goal for Rob.
He said: “We are not trying to make money out of it. So as long as people are coming and we’ve got people to run it, I’m happy.”