Today we had a free morning so we took a trip up the coast for about 20 miles. Gorgeous beaches to be exploited had we the time!
This afternoon we went to the Sunshine Coast Hockey Association and spent some time watching some chaps play hockey. They were all seniors who played Masters. We had a chat with a lovely gentleman called Keith who told us about their group and then we told him about Walking Hockey and our trip. He asked for links to videos so I gave him our website address. I was invited to play but as Keith is an international Masters player I politely declined.
Keith, if you like what you see you can contact me on email@example.com
This evening we saw the Facebook page of Steve Dickson MP, Australian Federal Government. It endorsed Walking Hockey!
We also took Nate out for a meal to thank him for arranging our stay and presentation on the Sunshine Coast. Everyone here is very excited about Walking Hockey and with Nate driving it I’m sure it’s going to be a huge success.
Today Sarah and I took time out to reflect on what has happened with Walking Hockey during this trip so far and what the immediate future holds. After a busy 10 days it is incredible to think what has happened so here’s a summary:
Dubai – met with a great response and will be launched soon for adults with juniors to use it too. Contacts established with players and administrators from South Africa, Northern Ireland, Ukraine, India, Belgium, the Netherlands and Scotland. Had a very warm (35 degrees) session of Walking Hockey thus becoming only the second country to try the programme.
Hockey New Zealand – very excited and will be putting adult programmes together and looking at integrating it into junior programmes too for basic skill work etc. Great opportunities for the sport.
Auckland Hockey Association – really keen and will be going for it too. Especially like the multicultural opportunities it presents. Set up contact with Head of FIH for us.
Sunshine Coast Hockey Association – really excited and have started to collect names of people for their first programme. Terrific opportunities for the large ageing community on Australia’s east coast. Meeting attended by the local MP and former Minister of Sport for Queensland. The first ever game of Walking Hockey in Australia was played by the High Performance under 18 men’s squad.
We still have three more groups to visit in Australia – Cairns HA, Hockey Australia and Footscray HC – before we head for home.
Today we also penned a letter to everyone we have met so far to ask for their assistance in taking the sport forward in a coordinated manner.
We also fitted in a trip into the mountains at the suggestion of our Sunshine Coast Hockey Association host Nate. Spectacular views and a nice lunch in a bistro too.
A beautiful sunny morning saw us take an early morning stroll along the beach before heading back to the apartment to plan the evening’s presentation.
After driving back to the Sunshine Coast Hockey Association’s (SCHA) lovely ground at Buderim we watched Nate coach two highly promising young lads followed by a match between U13 girls and U13 boys.
A quick ice cream later and it was presentation time. The audience included a MP who was formerly the Minister of Sport for Queensland, an 83 year old chap who was desperate to play again and several members of local hockey playing groups including the board of the SCHA. The presentation went very well and the audience and the SCHA were very excited indeed. SE Queensland has a very high older population and Walking Hockey is seen as an opportunity to let them get fitter in a fun way whilst making new friends. So impressed were they that they grabbed the U18 men’s practice and tried out Walking Hockey there and then, and guess what? They thought it was great fun too and want to use it as a future warm up routine!
The MP was extremely excited by Walking Hockey and wants to get it going ASAP!
So all in all another fine day in the history of Walking Hockey.
Today began very early (5am) so we could get to Auckland airport for our flight to Brisbane, Australia. Air New Zealand have a really funky design for their aircraft. The three and a half hour flight was really good with an excellent in flight media centre.
At Brisbane we picked up our car and headed north along Bruce Highway to Kawana Waters and the Beachsde Resort apartment that our friend Nate of the Sunshine Coast Hockey Association (SCHA) had kindly provided for us, its lovely.
After a quick unpack we headed off to Buderim, home of the SCHA, and caught the end of a local match on their water based AstroTurf. Got chatting to a couple of locals and they were really keen on our Walking Hockey sport.
Today was our rest day so we decided to take a trip to one of the islands off Auckland, Waiheke. And as this was the day of the first British Lions match I thought I’d wear my Lions coat and see what happened. I have to say it caused quite a bit of banter with the locals, especially when I said I was actually here for hockey and was flying off to Australia in the morning.
Waiheke is a beautiful island that is full of gorgeous beaches and wineries (where they had the cheek to charge for wine tasting so we drank the free water instead).
After our media duties were over we met up with Lynne, an old school friend, who we hadn’t seen for over forty years. She lives just outside Auckland and took us on a tour of the coastal suburbs, and a very nice time we had too.
Lynne dropped us off at Hockey NZ’s offices where we met up with Ken, Rachel and Jack again. Rachel is responsible, amongst other things, for growing Adult Participation in NZ whilst Jack does a similar role for juniors and young people. We also met Ken again, who is their boss.
We then went to the local pub for a meeting, yes really, with Manoj and Callum. Manoj is Head of Auckland Hockey, the largest Association in NZ with over 10,000 players. Manoj is a very senior figure in hockey and has excellent contacts across the world. He was really excited by Walking Hockey and has recommended us to the FIH, hockey’s world governing body. He has also put us in contact with senior figures in Spain and another contact in NZ. Another excellent day in the crazy world of Walking Hockey. We even treated ourselves to a drink 😉
A quick early update for you. We were woken in the middle of the night by Free Radio who wanted to have a chat there and then about our trip. I think we managed to do Walking Hockey justice at 02.30 am. But seriuosly it’s brilliant to have so much interest from the UK whilst we are away and thank you Free Radio.
At a much more civilised breakfast time it was great to chat to Trevor Owen, the main Sports man, from BBC Hereford & Worcester. The station have been great supporters of Walking Hockey from the start and we can’t thank them enough.
Day 6 dawned with a sunny Auckland morning and an email request for another BBC Radio interview, this time with the Saturday Sports Show.
After a quick hotel room change due to local noise (which got us a free breakfast) we headed by taxi to meet with two members of the Hockey NZ staff, Jack and Rachel. We handed them their limited edition number 2 signed Walking Hockey shirt and pennant which they seemed impressed with.
We then spent the whole day talking hockey matters including of course Walking Hockey. There are a lot of similarities with the way hockey is run and organised in NZ but also some significant differences so it was a great learning process for all of us. Jack and Rachel are really great folks which made the meeting even better.
The Walking Hockey part of our presentation went very well and Rachel is looking to get it going in NZ which is brilliant so thanks everyone back in the U.K. for your part in making it a success with your support and participation.
We also learned about Renegade Hockey (you’re going to love this in the U.K.) and the NZ version of Beach Hockey so we’ve lots to share when we get back. They also have a really great process for getting schools to play more hockey.
Tuesday morning saw us waving goodbye to the amazing new hockey friends we have made in Dubai. They want us to send a team over so get saving, juniors and walkers.
Our flight to Auckland took just over fifteen hours, quite a challenge that was, made easier by meeting up with some New Zealand sports stars – a team from the men’s 7 a side rugby tournament who had been playing in France and the ladies World Cup kayak team who had been out in Portugal. Of course I managed to tell them all about Walking Hockey too!
After settling into the hotel and grabbbing a bite to eat we were just settling down to sleep (been up for 30 hours) when my mobile rang. And a minute later I found myself talking live to BBC Hereford & Worcester who wanted an update on the trip. They are absolutely brilliant the way they keep checking in to see how things are going. I think that’s the seventh time now.
Tomorrow promises to be very interesting as we are spending it talking to people at the HQ of Hockey New Zealand, but more of that tomorrow.
Even our Emirates plane had a sporty theme with footballers from Paris St German featured on the fuselage.
Today was our first chance to Walk the Walk with the Dubai Hockey family.
After a 52nd floor lunch at the Marriott Observatory restaurant as a thank you to our host Annie ( ex England Ladies) we went off to Kent College, a twin of Kent School, Canterbury. Our talk was given in a huge auditorium and after some technical hiccups we were able to present to them a feel of how our club is growing and how it is becoming more successful using the Golden Thread coaching ideals of England Hockey. We also showed them Ann’s Walking Hockey video by way of introduction.
Then it was outside to give a coaching session in the 35 degree Dubai evening.
We began with some small sided games which they loved then split the juniors off from the adult group. The juniors played more small sided games and the adults got to grips with Walking Hockey. And they all loved it.
There is a now a determination to launch Walking Hockey here and significant interest from South Africa, Belgium and India too.
Sarah is feeling rightly proud of herself having played tonight with ex England and ex Belgium international players!
Walking Hockey – who’d have imagined it!
Day 4 of the blog will take a while to appear as we will be flying to Auckland tomorrow, a 17 hour flight, but we will update you when we get there.