FEATURE: Hockey as an ‘inclusion’ sport continues to make inroads into catering for the disabled athlete
It is most rewarding to see the global conviction of hockey communities to ensure hockey becomes a great inclusion sport by its commitment to ensuring there are no disability barriers for people to chose and play hockey as a sport. Hockey is a sport that’s easily adapted to different ability levels, so there’s huge potential for hockey to become one of the leaders in disability inclusion. There are no arguments hockey organisations want more disabled children, young people and adults to have access to our sport.
There is many great initiatives underway in England, Australia, and Netherlands to name but a few structured programs. In this article we look at a synopsis of these programs which are gaining momentum through their proven results with the hope that many more hockey organisations and clubs will embrace hockey as an all inclusion sport.
England hockey has an all inclusive hockey disability program called Flyerz. Flyerz is a project that was set up a few years ago to create opportunities for adults and children with learning difficulties to play hockey. Flyerz hockey has become a really positive term for disability hockey in England. Created by our clubs, we prefer it, as Flyerz is something that people want to belong to.
Recently in conjunction with the 2016 Champions Trophy England hockey held Flyerz Festival at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis centre featuring players from St Albans, Wapping, Waltham Forest and Braintree hockey clubs. For all concerned it was highly successful. Adult participation manager Bev Blackburn said; “It’s brilliant that the project can be a part of the Hockey Champions Trophy. It’s great to show how inclusive our sport really is and hosting festivals like this one can only help us grow the Flyerz project. We want to create an atmosphere that is social, fun and welcoming for the players.”
One testimony of the success of the Flyerz Festival comes from Amy Waring who plays hockey at Loughborough University. She suffers from mild cerebral palsy but has been playing hockey for years. She brought her brother and sister along to give hockey ago. “I play hockey but I brought my brother and sister along who are on the autistic spectrum who haven’t played before. I have always tried to get them to participate but it can be quite difficult to join a mainstream club. I heard about this festival and thought it is something they can join in and have some fun. I know they want to give hockey a go but finding the opportunities can be challenging.
To find out more about the England’s Flyerz program go to http://www.englandhockey.co.uk/page.asp?section=1167
Hockey Victoria is leading the rest of the nation when it comes to developing disable inclusive hockey events. Hockey Victoria has been working with a number of its clubs and associations in providing more opportunities for people of All Abilities to take part in hockey, in particular initially with Wellington Hockey Club and Doncaster Hockey Club in developing club based programs which both began in 2015. Since January 2015, Hockey Victoria has enabled over 3,000 people with a disability to participate in hockey. To further promote the program, Hockey Victoria developed a series of videos that highlight how hockey can be a sport for all (see below).
Hockey Victoria’s Amy Coshan is the Inclusion Coordinator at Hockey Victoria. She has embraced the role and provided over 700 people of all abilities with the opportunity to experience hockey. She has taken the lead in developing important relationships with schools, teachers, club coaches and the kids involved in the program.
One of the important action points in the KNHB (Netherlands Hockey) strategic hockey growth plan is the integration of able and disabled hockey players within hockey clubs and the provision of structural activities and support for G- and LG-players. G and LG hockey is hockey for players with a learning (G) or physical (LG) disability, that are not wheelchair dependant. Project start Dutch hockey club ‘Zoetermeer” started in 1993 with a G-hockey activity for young people with a learning disability. Hockey club “Push” from Breda started in 1996 with a LG-hockey activity for young people with a physical disability. The KNHB started to support these activities from 1999 onwards. In order to create nationwide interest in G- and LG-hockey the KNHB set up a working group that serves as a sounding-board for these development plans.
We thank those people who have graciously given their time and resources to the ongoing commitment in making hockey an International sport for all people.