New all-weather pitch gives Telford hockey club opportunities to expand

Councillors are being asked to loan a hockey club £50,000 so it can continue to expand.

The new pitch
The new pitch

Due to its poor state, Telford and Wrekin Hockey Club had needed to replace its hockey pitch at St Georges Recreational Ground.

And as a result the club has been able to expand its coaching programme, with the investment also enabling its teams to compete at a national level.

In the coming months, it will also be the only club in Shropshire and one of a handful in the whole of the UK to offer disability hockey.

The project, costing more than £220,000, was made possible through the club's own funding, a National Hockey Foundation grant and £54,000 of section 106 money, secured from nearby residential development, which was contributed by Telford & Wrekin Council.

But there is still a £50,000 shortfall to cover the costs and the council's cabinet is now being asked to approve a loan for that amount to the club over a 25-year period.

Cabinet chiefs will decide next week whether to provide the financial support, but it is hoped the investment will provide further potential for the development of the sport in the borough.

A report to the council's cabinet, which meets next Thursday, says it is the ‘premier’ community use hockey pitch in the borough and its poor condition meant it needed replacing so it could continue to be used safely.

In considering the benefits of the loan, the club has agreed to provide 100 hours free hire and 100 hours of subsidised coaching for youth sport at the new pitch.

It has also surrendered its leasehold in the Town Park, meaning Telford Hornets Rugby Club can become leaseholders of the whole facility and be eligible for grants to make improvements.

Gwynne Goodfield, from Telford and Wrekin Hockey Club, said: “The existing pitch was in a poor state but with the support of Telford & Wrekin Council we now have one of the best hockey facilities in Shropshire.

"This provides us the opportunity to expand our programme of coaching which currently includes 230 junior and adults and 150 children between the ages of five and 18.

“We have already started to run Back 2 Hockey and Walking Hockey sessions for adults who may have played at school and stopped or never picked up a stick before and want to give the sport a go.

"In the coming months we'll be the only club in Shropshire and a handful in the whole of the UK to offer disability hockey.

“As well as these benefits at an elite level it will enable our teams to compete at a national level."

Councillor Eileen Callear, Telford & Wrekin’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and visitor economy, said it was an "exciting" project which would help ensure that both children and adults have the opportunity to take part in a variety of different healthy sporting activity across the borough.

“Subject to cabinet approval, we are extremely keen to support Telford Hockey Club to bridge this funding gap which will ultimately ensure more people can access these sports facilities in the future," she added.

Established in 1895, Telford & Wrekin Hockey Club is one of the oldest hockey clubs in the UK.

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