HC Knole Park enlighten us with a mid-season report

HC Knole Park are very proud of their programme and seek to continue to be a forward-thinking, creative and inspirational hockey club for all hockey players wishing to progress.

In what has been very tough time for all, HC Knole Park has been helping all their members by focusing on providing as much mental and physical wellbeing support through its practical and online hockey programmes so far this season as possible.

After a summer of daily online hockey training and coaching, the opportunity to start playing was very welcomed in late June. Their members enjoyed a packed summer holidays of hockey including five weeks of camps, indoor and outdoor age group trainings, Summer League mix-ins and some pre-season fixtures helped to get everyone active again. Since then, every team managed nine weeks of uninterrupted club training before Lockdown 2.0. It was an amazing and really enjoyable four months of hockey.

One of HC Knole Park’s core philosophies is to deliver outstanding training and they were delighted that the training was unaffected throughout September and October. All HCKP junior members were able to access two outdoor and one indoor session every week. Studies show that the most important time for a young hockey player to develop their game is around the ages of 9–14. It is at this age that Knole Park strive to provide as many opportunities and quality as they can.

After many cancellations and changes to fixtures and travel arrangements, Knole Park managed to organise for every team to play some external matches which was quite remarkable given the circumstances.

In the older age groups, HC Knole Park introduced an U18 girls side which has given them some really exciting challenges. With the introduction of the U18 Academy at Knole Park the club are now able to offer regional level training and coaching on a weekly basis. Twenty-one girls were selected into the England Hockey Performance Centre in Tonbridge, as well as two other girls continuing to train at International level with England and Wales.

In October half-term twelve HC Knole Park girls were nominated for England U16 and U18 trials. In a slight change to the usual format of the England Hockey Futures Cup; school, club and PC coaches were able to nominate players for England Assessment. We were really pleased that so many of our players were supported by their coaches in all areas of their hockey. Since the trials, six girls have made it through to the next stage of the selection; an incredible effort! The girls are now just one more selection away from being selected to represent England U16s or U18s in 2021.

Duncan Parnis, HC Knole Park, Director of Coaching said: “To see so many girls nominated at this level was really positive. For the girls to then play as well as they did to make it through to the next stage was phenomenal! They are all playing the best hockey they ever have at the moment and it’s a joy to coach them”.

These individual stories reinforce the positivity of this community project in the local area.

HC Knole Park’s U14 and U16 A-Teams continued to set the pace in their respective leagues and competitions. Their performances so far have been remarkable, often receiving praise from opposition coaches and players which is lovely for those players to hear. Knole Park now also offers B team hockey at both U14 and U16 level too – these sides are as competitive as local club’s A-Teams which is amazing! The performances of these teams in the last few weeks before Lockdown 2.0 demonstrated just how far Knole Park has come as a club and the impact of their training programme in such a short amount of time. Making all training as enjoyable and engaging for all members has been the key here.

The Men and the Boys teams seem to mirror one another – some sublime hockey, followed by some defensive counter-attacks which has left their poor goalkeepers overloaded with the opponents! Both groups continue to make huge progress and will continue to strive to play exciting attacking hockey!

Finally, our Women’s 1s continue to set the pace at the top of their league with some outstanding team performances. Played 5, won 5 and with a resounding positive goal difference of +89 goals has demonstrated the quality of the 1st team hockey at Knole Park. Indeed Knole Park is becoming increasingly popular and have just set up a Women’s 2nd team! Their league campaign may restart after Lockdown 3.0 in Division Six.

Ruth Bingham, Women’s 1st Team Captain, said: “It’s been a great start to the season. We are really grateful to the support from Kent HA to move us up to Division 2. The girls are playing some wonderful hockey and they continue to develop at an amazing rate! We are delighted to be able to introduce a Women’s 2nd Team too”.

With the England Hockey and Copper Box Indoor Championships being cancelled, Knole Park have run weekly Internal Indoor Championships which have been great fun, fiercely competitive and full of quality indoor hockey. It’s made a massive difference to the volume of indoor hockey the children get to play, as well as their game understanding and enjoyment of hockey.

At the start of September, Parnis ran the first part of the England Hockey Young Leadership Award. The course was attended by 20 young players who learnt about “how to” coach, umpire and lead groups. Most importantly for Knole Park, the course allowed for the next generation of coaches and umpires to focus on their communication skills, how they engage with others and how to inspire others! All of these Young Leaders are now coaching across a variety of sessions each week providing the coaches with assistance, umpiring and lots of inspiration for the younger members.

“The Young Leaders Programme is superb for everyone at the club. The Young Leaders learn about coaching and umpiring the younger members, as well as developing their communication skills and game understanding. The U10s and U12s then get to be inspired by the Young Leaders – you can see how much more enjoyable they make it for everyone. We would like all of our juniors to be confident leaders, coaches and umpires by the time they get to Year 13. It’s a great programme!” said Parnis.

In late September HC Knole Park set about raising some money for some GPS pods and software. In just two weeks the club raised almost £5000 which allowed them to purchase sixteen GPS pods and the software platform to go with it. The club is now literally up and running! The GPS pods are now available for all members to use in all trainings from U14 upwards and in as many matches as possible at the weekend. They are already providing valuable data for the coaching team to use with the players, as well as providing that extra 5% of motivation to run back after losing the ball!

HC Knole Park were also delighted to have Nutshell Asset Management as their new main sponsor. With thanks to Mark Ellis, parent to four young hockey players at Knole Park, this additional funding has already helped the club to run more hockey for their members, replenish and upgrade their equipment, as well as helping to support those that cannot access as much hockey through grants and bursaries.

Across the club there has been a lot of excellent work and tremendous performances which have been really enjoyable to watch. Win, lose or draw HC Knole Park aspire to play creative, dynamic, attacking hockey. HC Knole Park are very proud of their programme and seek to continue to be a forward-thinking, creative and inspirational hockey club for all hockey players wishing to progress their hockey.

Ruth Bingham, HC Knole Park Chair said: “It has been a difficult start to the season for all, however we are pleased that we have been able to do as much hockey as we could so far this season. Coaching the U10s through to the U18s I get to see how much everyone is improving and enjoying their hockey. The online hockey has been great for our members too. We wish everyone great success on and off the pitch in 2021”.