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Flyerz Hockey keep members engaged as Sport England’s Club Matters hub expands

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 May 2020

Flyerz Hockey members at a Pro League match at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre

Flyerz Hockey members at a Pro League match at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre

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Sports clubs, organisations and groups facing the challenge to stay connected with members and engage with their community have a new range of resources to help.

Kate Richardson-Walsh (centre) took part in a virtual Flyerz Hockey session recentlyKate Richardson-Walsh (centre) took part in a virtual Flyerz Hockey session recently

Lockdown measures to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic mean face-to-face activities have stopped altogether, leaving clubs uncertain about when they will be able to return to courts, pitches, parks, leisure centres, courses and waterways.

But Sport England, which encourages people across the country to play sport and stay physically active, has expanded their Club Matters online hub to provide club organisers with the practical and convenient tools they need to ensure they can keep functioning.

The tools, which range from virtual workshops to guidance notes, checklists and case studies are available from the body’s Club Matters programme.

“It’s a really difficult time for community sport at the moment with lots of uncertainty around finances, when they will be able to get playing again and how many people will come back to their sport when this is all over,” said Phil Smith, Director of Sport at Sport England.

“There’s a lot of ambiguity currently but Club Matters is there to provide confidence and comfort to clubs and organisations everywhere. For some clubs, just being able to survive this tough period and be able to function is the main aim.

“But for others, we’ve already seen them step up and play such a fantastic role in their communities, which is really heartening to see. It gives you a strong sense around the power of coming together in through sport.”

Some clubs have been delivering food to vulnerable or elderly people in their community or engaging in fundraising for local charities and good causes, alongside remote sport and activity sessions.

Flyerz Hockey clubs, which are part of the grassroots disability inclusive hockey movement in England, as well as further sections all across the country, are already delivering innovative ways of helping their members stay active and connected.

This includes Zoom calls with members, exercise routines that can be done in the home, and challenges to keep people exercising and help maintain mental as well as physical health.

After being showcased by the Club Matters website, some of the Flyerz Hockey team movement recently appeared on BBC Breakfast as a success story for other clubs to take inspiration from.

“We’ve really been overwhelmed by the attitude of Flyerz clubs in their desire to reach out to members and families to make sure they’re able to support them socially and help them stay physically active,” said Hayley Barton, who oversees Flyerz Hockey as Delivery Director for Access Sport’s disability inclusion programme.

“Because Flyerz sections are spread across the country, it’s very hard for us to ever bring everyone together. We’ve very quickly realised that using technology is a real opportunity to do that a bit more often.

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“Staying connected with our clubs and volunteers is so important. We’ve tried to be understanding of everyone’s individual situation – everyone has been affected by this in different ways.

“Some people have been ill themselves or on furlough, we’re just trying to be mindful that not everyone will have time to put into this but then others will have lots more. It’s a difficult balance but we’ve been overwhelmed by the response and people’s willingness to make sure we’re supporting those that need it most during this time.”

Olympic gold medallists Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh are ambassadors for the Flyerz Hockey programme and have been playing their part in reaching out to members – who have a broad range of disabilities – via the regular Zoom calls.

“We went on Zoom with the club at Tunbridge Wells,” said Kate, who also coaches the women’s team at Hampstead & Westminster.

“All the coaches were there, and it wasn’t just the players, their family members were in the background and it was just as it would be for a regular Flyerz session.

“Some of the players even had their kit on – it’s nice being able to kit up and have that sense of belonging, sometimes we all need that.”

Sport England’s response to the pandemic has helped to secure the future of more than 4,000 sports clubs and organisations in the sport and physical activity sector.

And Smith hopes other clubs will follow the Flyerz Hockey example, as well as use the free resources on the Club Matters hub to come out of the current situation with a more connected and engaged membership than ever before.

“To see programmes and clubs such as Flyerz Hockey doing what they are is fantastic,” he added.

“I’d like to thank all the clubs and delivery organisations for continuing to shine during the toughest of times – the passion they’ve all shown has been truly inspirational for everyone.

“Our role now is to help everyone as much as possible to stay physically and mentally active and healthy, and the team at Club Matters have been able to do that with guides, toolkits and case studies of inspiring stories.

“There’s something for everyone there, and we will be able to get through all of this and thrive again.”

*Club Matters is a Sport England Lottery Funded Programme providing advice and resources for clubs and organisations in the physical activity and sport sector.

To find out how to keep your club /organisation functioning during the Coronavirus pandemic, visit www.sportenglandclubmatters.com


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