With the Junior section firmly underway and the Senior league season about to commence I would like to extend a warm welcome to all our returning and new members, supporters and parents. This season will be like no other with the vast number of additional COVID arrangements being put in place and I would like to thank all those behind the scenes for making ‘Returning to Hockey’ possible and I ask for players, parents and coaches to continue their support in following the guidance. It is a responsibility that we all have to take on if we are able to continue playing.
Before I progress, I would just like to recap on what was a very successful 2019/2020 season for OCHC. Unfortunately matters out of our control brought the season to an abrupt end and didn’t allow us to celebrate a record breaking 5 promotions for the senior section and 2 England Hockey Cup Finals for the Men’s Over 50s and 40s. One highlight was the Men’s 1s securing the league title at the first time of asking. They’ll now play in the Men’s Hockey League Division One South, which in footballing terms is the Championship, for the first time in the Club’s history. A fantastic effort from the squad to achieve two promotions on the bounce especially having travelled over 1000 miles throughout the season, setting off before day break many weekends, which shows massive commitment from the them.
The Junior section hit over 550 members being ably trained by over 90 coaches, the majority of whom remain volunteers, supported in a number of instances by some of our older players participating in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. The trend of our older junior players successfully graduating to senior teams has continued, with a number of U18-U16 girls and boys playing Ladies and Men’s league hockey.
There was Cup success for the U12 boys, U10 boys, U10 Girls and U16 Girls got through to the knock-out stages of the U16 England Hockey Championship competition but COVID stopped any further progression.
Off The Pitch
It is also worth mentioning lockdown allowed us to come together as a community as the Club supported the Elmbridge Foodbank alongside OC Rugby Club. For numerous weeks club members arrived on Saturdays to the OC Club with their ‘Street’ collections surpassing anything that the Foodbank had received from other groups donating. At the height of the pandemic, 100 families were in need of weekly food donations. We will continue to work with Elmbridge Foodbank over the coming months.
Like many we used the closed season to undertake a number of housekeeping activities and for all those who attended the recent AGM you will be aware the Club now has a suite of policies, published on our website, for its members (incl. parents and guardians) and committee members to adhere to. The aim being to ensure all our members know where to refer to for guidance and support.
The AGM also approved the Club’s revised Constitution, it having been missing for a number of decades now! Many thanks to Nick Lewis and Jon Heard for manging this process alongside Club Mark (Sport England’s national accreditation scheme), which is now near completion.
It is also worth mentioning that the Executive Committee welcomed Georgie Sangster as Ladies Club Captain, Toby Stevenson as Head of Strategy and Rosanna Hall as Communications Officer.
The Junior Committee appointed Lauren Moors as Director of Junior Hockey, Sarah McKay as Junior Secretary / Membership, Mark Lynn as Fixtures Secretary and Matt Close as Welfare Officer.
In addition, Jo Mir was been appointed as Ladies Vice Club Captain and Pastoral Care to help the integration of our juniors into the senior teams.
Looking ahead there will be many challenges this season on and off the pitch. Not least ensuring that the new wave of restrictions ‘break the circuit’ and ensure we can continue. However as you know changes occur daily and the Club will be provide updates, as is necessary, on our website and social media platforms.
I would also like to ensure that anyone who may be facing financial struggles knows that the Club is keen to avoid people giving up the sport because they can’t afford membership fees or kit costs. We have therefore created a Hardship Fund by using monies raised through the 100 Club. Find out how to claim or contribute to the Hardship Fund.
As we continue to grow OCHC starts the season with 15 senior squads and 600+ juniors. Whilst growth brings its challenges, I am confident that both the Executive and Junior Committees are committed to managing these and being flexible in its approach.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone a successful season from U6s pushing the ball for the first time to our Vets some who are 70+. Also thank you to the many volunteers and parents for all your continued support.