Last weekend saw all 14 of Bedford Hockey Club’s senior sides in action in friendly matches.
Whilst wins are always good, and there were a number of those across the Club, including 6-0 victories for both the Ladies’ 1s and Ladies’ 5s, the aim of the day was for teams to be challenged by some tough oppositions.
Six of the Club’s teams earned promotion following last season’s success, and a rearrangement of the league structure means others now find themselves facing competition at a higher level.
Pre-season, therefore, is a time for teams to get a feel for the elevated intensity of performance that is going to be required of them as they take on teams in these higher divisions.
Furthermore, several new coaches, at all levels across the Club, have joined Bedford Hockey Club this season, so matches and training over the past few weeks have provided an opportunity for players and coaches to get to know each other.
‘Friendly’ matches within sport may be something of a misnomer, in terms of the competitive on-pitch battles, but pre-season friendlies are hugely important as part of the Club’s build-up to the League season.
These matches, after the summer break, are about training and preparation and seek to enable peak match performance once the League season begins in earnest.
Such games provide an opportunity to work on getting match fit, physically, mentally and tactically, they are about team development, but, also, having fun.
Early season is a time for regrouping, as any sporting arena is a highly fluid one, with a constant exchange of players leaving and joining clubs, and movement up and down the teams.
It is always emotional when youngsters, many of whom have been involved with the Club for more than a decade, head off to university, the hope being that they will return to Bedford once their studies are completed.
One of the greatest joys, meanwhile, is to see new youngsters step up from junior to senior level play, as they enter their thirteenth year.
The Club places great importance on ensuring that its youngsters, along with all its players, are provided with the opportunity to develop their hockey prowess whilst also nurturing them emotionally.
This is reflected in the number of Bedford players who progress to playing for county and even national squads within the sport, at junior, senior and masters’ levels.
If proof were needed that Bedford Hockey Club is getting it right, it can be demonstrated by the increase, year-on-year, in its membership, the Club now having over 500 members.
Further details about the Club can be found at: www.bedfordhockeyclub.com
This weekend brings the start of League competition for many of the teams.
Words: Jean Fitch