The 2021/22 league season is just around the corner for Bedford Hockey Club, and the Chester Road pitches are alive with activity, on the back of the Summer’s Mixed League competitions.
What a season it looks to be on so many levels.
Once more, both the men’s and the women’s first teams will be fighting it out in National League, after the men moved back up to the Conference. Training for the elite Performance Squads has already begun with fervour.
The Women’s 1st XI commence their league campaign on Saturday 25th September with a home fixture against local rivals St Albans.
The men meanwhile travel away on the Sunday to battle it out with Lichfield, their first home league fixture being the 3rd October, when they will take on Harborne.
Walking Hockey has also made its return and welcomes both men and women, a perfect form of the game for players who are keen to participate in competition but are looking for a less physically demanding version.
The format is designed to help people, regardless of age, health and ability to maintain an active lifestyle with a focus on fun.
Thursday evening sessions, from 7-8, have already started and Sunday morning sessions, 10-11, will be recommencing on the 29th September.
Bedford Hockey Club, also, has a thriving Masters section, entering teams into the England Hockey Championships starting for players over 35.
The Championship play-offs culminate in finals played at Nottingham Hockey Centre and, this year, both the Women’s Over-35s and 45s reached the finals.
Whilst the Over-45s failed to pull off a win, ending runners up in their competition, the Over-35s, who were playing as reigning champions, secured another great victory to hold their title.
In the coming season, there are plans to enter not only an Over-35s and 45s team but, also an Over-55s.
The standard of the Club’s Masters hockey is reflected in the number of players who represent the East Region, and the Home Nations.
Seven of the Club’s Masters players, six women and one man have just been involved in an England Hockey Invitational tournament, three playing for England, two for the East, one for Scotland and two for Wales.
The club has Masters – male and female – playing at international level at age groups from over 35 up to over-70s, and across all four home nations.
Not to be outdone by their seniors, the junior side of the club is also thriving.
Age-specific coaching and competition is facilitated by the club from Under-5s and continues through to Under-18s.
The tireless work that has gone on with the youth over the years has been rewarded by the news, this week, that the club has been invited by England Hockey into the process for talent centre accreditation.
After England Hockey received over 120 expressions of interest, Bedford Hockey Club was selected as one of just 37 clubs across the whole of the UK to enter this programme, which is part of England Hockey’s new strategy for talent development.
In sharing the news of success to the Club, England Hockey highlighted:
“For year one, we’ve chosen a collection of clubs who are demonstrating the ability to champion Talent Centre accreditation and encapsulate our vision for early talent development embedded in clubs.
“We’ve considered the likelihood of a club tendering to be a Talent Academy and its current readiness to be a Talent Centre from a workforce, facilities, and governance perspective.”
The number of Bedford Hockey Club youngsters who have followed the England Hockey Performance Pathway over recent years is proof that the Club are up for this challenge.
Next weekend, two more of the club’s youngsters, Tash Miller and Megan Howlett, will be participating in England Hockey’s Futures Cup, having been selected for the Saxon Tigers Under 15s Girls squad.