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Youngsters’ joy as hockey club returns to the pitch

PUBLISHED: 14:07 23 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:07 23 July 2020

Youngsters from the North Norfolk Hockey Club, which has resumed play following the lockdown. Picture: North Norfolk Hockey Club

Youngsters from the North Norfolk Hockey Club, which has resumed play following the lockdown. Picture: North Norfolk Hockey Club

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A hockey club’s junior members have been embracing out-of-season training as an excuse to finally get back on the pitch after months of lockdown.

Mila Mleczkowska, 10, from the North Norfolk Hockey Club, which has resumed play following the lockdown. Picture: North Norfolk Hockey ClubMila Mleczkowska, 10, from the North Norfolk Hockey Club, which has resumed play following the lockdown. Picture: North Norfolk Hockey Club

Around 65 junior members and 30 adults from North Norfolk Hockey Club have resumed weekly training sessions at their Cromer base - even though they would not normally train through summer.

Justin Freeman, the club’s youth development officer, said the return to play had given the children a huge boost.

Mr Freeman said: “The look on the kids’ faces when they came out of lockdown and saw their team mates in the flesh was quite something.

“After the first session ended there was a noticeable sense of relief.

“Post-training notes shared by coaches noted that they could see the youngsters processing the fact, that after so long apart, they were back doing what they love, with their friends.”

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The club’s season normally ends at Easter, but this was cut short by the lockdown this year, which meant the members missed out on finals tournaments and awards ceremonies.

Mr Freeman said: “That wasn’t ideal, but most of all there was an absence of closure. We don’t normally train through the summer but this year prioritised getting back onto the pitch and it’s been a very rewarding experience.”

New guidelines say players have to train in ‘bubbles’ and comply with social distancing measures. Each bubble is allowed to have a maximum of one coach and five players.

The club was formed five years ago and last year held the first England Hockey-accredited coach training course in the area, in partnership with Beeston Hall School in Sheringham.

Hanna Hall, who leads the adult training sessions, said: “The ‘bubbles’ aspect was at first something of a challenge.

“The end result though is that with so many qualified coaches, not only can we offer the opportunity to train, but that we also offer a really positive player/coach ratio.”

She added: “We’re a small club and given our coastal location we probably always will be. We don’t have our own pitch or clubhouse, but flipping that around means we instead focus on player development. We did though totally luck out by receiving so much support from the management team at Sheringham High School, and other volunteers who were also instrumental in our return to pitch training.”


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