Sevenoaks Juniors have had an unprecedented season, and even though cut short, there have been a multitude of success stories to celebrate:
Four girls were picked to play for England, which is a very impressive number from a single club. In addition, 58 of the juniors have been picked for county and regional level hockey. The U18 girls are through to England Hockey Tier 2 Semifinals and the U16 Girls qualified for the National Finals (both are currently postponed, with the hope that they might be played sometime in the future), U16 Boys went through to the Regional finals where they were sadly knocked out. The U14 Girls qualified for the Regional Finals but unfortunately these have had to be cancelled. The U18 Boys went through to the Indoor National Finals where they were narrowly defeated in the semi-finals. The U16 Boys and Girls participated in the prestigious Cooper Box Indoor Tournament at the end of December. The U12 Girls were the winners and the U10 Boys the runners up of the Kent Cup and both teams went through to the Regional Finals (sadly cancelled). In December, the club enjoyed a sunny Barcelona where they went for a big international tournament for the fourth year running. The juniors displayed some amazing hockey and the U14 girls took home the gold and the U14 boys came back with silver, but more importantly came back with even stronger bonds and friendships.
In addition to this, the club runs well attended camps every holiday and new for this season, master classes for players of County or higher standard are offered with big success.
Throughout the season, the Club has also seen lots of juniors playing for the senior teams, all the way from the “lower” teams, all the way up to the Ladies and Men’s 1st XI, which gives the girls and boys an amazing opportunity to play hockey at a very high level.
The ladies 1s this year had three U16 girls as part of their main squad and they have been benefitting from training and support from the ladies head coach and triple Olympian Jen Wilson. Both men and ladies also have an “Acorn team” which is usually the way in for juniors to start playing senior hockey. This is a team made up of mostly juniors, from age 13 and up, but they play with some very supportive and seasoned senior players who are there to gently guide the youngsters into the more serious world of adult hockey.
Two new coaches, Ian Haley and Jason Bigara were taken on by the club in September and they have both slotted in very nicely into the family of the club. A few days ago Ian sent a message thanking the committee, coaches, volunteers, parents and players: “I really enjoyed my first season at Sevenoaks and have really felt the family atmosphere at the club and long may it continue. Of course there is always room for improvement and I really believe that we as a club are going in the right direction and are growing from strength to strength. The players that I have coached over this season have been brilliant and I hope you have learnt something new but most importantly that you enjoyed playing hockey! I am looking forward to next season as we keep growing and pushing ourselves to be the best that we can be”.
Head coach Jason meanwhile added: “Sadly because of the ongoing pandemic we were not able to finish the season with the junior and senior teams. Nevertheless, it has been a successful one for many of our teams. My first impressions of the club have been really positive with great people getting stuck in, in all areas of the club. The club is ambitious, but more importantly wanting to do things the right way. I believe, from what I have seen this season, we have created a good atmosphere for our young players to thrive in, that fosters decision making and team spirit. Getting to know the players and parents, fellow coaches and managers has been an important part of my first season at the club. There is still a long way to go and more things to implement as we approach next season, as part of the overall coaching master plan. Our juniors from U8’s up, are on a clear pathway with a curriculum devoted to development and the coaching of the ‘Sevenoaks way’, so that our players receive consistency on their hockey journey. The future is bright!”
In order to keep spirits, skills and fitness up the coaches are posting twice-weekly Skills Challenges on-line which has been very appreciated amongst the juniors and seniors alike!
Social media and virtual ‘house-parties’ also keep the juniors’ spirits up and retaining the very important friendships and bonds which they have created playing together at Sevenoaks.
No doubt, the Sevenoaks Juniors will come back next season raring to get back to hockey! One might say the future is purple!