WOMENS HOCKEY starts golden era and new season

West Clubs Women's HockeyA golden era for women’s hockey begins today with the start of the new national and regional league seasons.

Whether you are playing for a top 10 Women’s Hockey League Premier Division side – like Bristol’s brilliant Clifton Robinsons – one of 10 amazing Women’s Conference West teams or just about to start your first game in the West Clubs Women’s Hockey League these are glorious gilt-edged days for your chosen sport.

Great Britain women’s Rio Olympics hockey success – finishing above the best sides in the world – has catapulted women’s hockey into new golden territory.

For the first time one of the country’s top women’s sports teams claimed a peak-time viewing spot on national terrestrial television – as well as topping the podium in Brazil.

Blinking heck just last night Maddie Hinch and Sam Quek – not just one but two members of the gold-medal winning GB women’s hockey squad – were star guests on BBC’s prime time Question of Sport.

With her match-winning penalty-saving final exploits Hinch has become a sporting household name and catapulted ‘keeping to new levels and making “minding the goal” super cool for cats.

Believe me – as an enthusiastic but very poor player for over 40 years and a hockey correspondent for nearly as many – that is probably as big an achievement as the girls’ team winning gold.

Even the traditionally slow wheels of hockey have turned a little faster since GB women’s success, the key is now helping them race up-to-speed.

Weaving that golden Team GB thread through the domestic game, encouraging more females – young or old – to simply play hockey or return to a game they loved.

Women’s football, cricket, rugby union and that other great traditional women’s team sport, netball, are already ahead of the game.

Domestically women’s hockey is, unfortunately, playing catch-up after stumbling into the golden glare of the nation’s sporting spotlight.

Over a year ago I was telling committees of established local sports clubs they needed to ride on the crest of a wave: the clamour to play women’s sport, in some cases hockey.

I didn’t have a crystal ball – or a golden one – but what I do see, sadly, is the widespread inability of so many sports clubs to make the most of opportunity.

In my privileged position I see it every day: local sports clubs chasing their tails rather than opening their eyes, and arms, wider.

Hockey is a top team sport. No argument. It has also crossed the gender divide for longer than any other sport I can think of off the top of my head.

Little did I imagine the “opportunity” I spoke of would become a golden one.

Little did I realise a sport that I have dedicated a large part of my life promoting would achieve a truly momentous ground-breaking goal on the other side of the world.

The trick now is to repeat that success, on a broader scale, across the country, across the region, across the board.

It’s up to hockey to pick up the stick, play ball and weave some more magic…

Game on!

• Today's Investec Women's Hockey League opening fixtures

• Today's West Clubs Womens Hockey League opening fixtures

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.