The Isle of Man lies in the Irish Sea, between England and Ireland and is less than 60 miles west of the Lancashire coastline. It is 33 miles long, 13 miles wide and covers an area of 227 square miles. More than 40% of the Island is uninhabited. The population of the island is approximately 80,000 a significant majority of whom live in and around the Island’s capital, Douglas. The Island offers opportunities for young and old to start and further their abilities at almost every sport.
Andrew Whiting, Hockey and Badminton Development Officer, explains ‘over the past 5 years the development of junior hockey on the Isle of Man has really taken off. Running in line with England Hockey, the Isle of Man introduced the Single System for elite juniors. Since its insertion, we have had players reach every stage of the system from Junior Regional Performance Centres in Manchester and Durham to the Futures Cup which is competed in by the four regions top players.’ The IOM has produced some incredible players such as Louise Corkill who has represented England at University level. Andrew agrees that ‘for such a small island to gain as high recognition as that is astounding’.
Over the past year, there has been several new level 2 coaches qualified. By continuing to offer coaching courses to anyone over the age of 16; new ideas and theories from the hockey world will be introduced into the Island hockey community; which can only benefit the Island game. There are several schemes in place on island for juniors to enter the exciting sport of hockey. Manx Sport and Recreation (MSR) provide a midweek pay and play session called ‘Step into Sport’. These sessions are aimed at children in Reception to Year 3 and look at the fundamentals of movement with basic hockey ideals. Following on from that are the school holiday programmes that run over the various school holidays in the year. These sessions are aimed at children aged 6-16 and again look at basic hockey skills.
Another MSR scheme is the Primary School Sports Programme (PSSP), this is aimed specifically at children in years 3 and 4. Using the quicksticks initiative, 4 regional festivals are played leading into a finals day where the top 2 teams from each region compete to be crowned all island champions.
With regard to senior hockey, the Isle of Man team has really exceeded all expectations. In 2013 the Island hosted the inter-islands tournament. This was a huge success in terms of hosting the tournament and competing. The men reached the final but unfortunately lost to Guernsey. However, the ladies reached the final and beat Jersey in a 2-0 win. By hosting and competing in tournaments like this, the Island really promotes hockey for the elite and beginners across the Isle of Man.
Activate Sport are running several sports courses, including the Hockey Masterclass at King William’s College, Isle of Man, during August 2014. There is also a fantastic residential option for these courses too. If you would like a taste of what the Isle of Man has to offer sport style and recive some great coaching then please visit www.activatesport.co.uk