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Wales celebrates 'Hocktober' with colourfully inclusive initiative

It's #Hocktober

From rainbow laces and hockey sticks to skills competitions and taster sessions, it is all about inclusivity in Wales as the #Hocktober social media campaign gains momentum in hockey circles.

Hockey Wales has come up with this unique campaign with an inclusivity drive entitled #Hocktober.

“The aim of Hocktober is to try to help improve access to quality hockey opportunities regardless of age, ability or background,” explains Hockey Wales Regional Delivery Manager, Richard Jones.

The event is a spin-off from the Sport RTC Commonwealth Games Legacy and primarily aims to inspire people to take up hockey in the wake of the 2014 Glasgow Games.

The movement had a trial run last year when clubs in South Wales organised Hocktober events, but this year the movement has rolled out across the whole country, with partners such as LGB&T Sport Cymru and Disability Sport Wales working alongside Hockey Wales to promote inclusivity.

“Besides established events such as Back2Hockey and Rush Hockey, which have been around some time,” says Jones, “We are working with clubs and hockey agents to run regional events at various locations as well as running sub-campaigns to make hockey more accessible.”

Hockey Wales is working with a range of groups and sponsors to deliver programmes and #Hocktober will culminate with the annual Hockey Wales Awards at the end of the month, including a ‘Hockey Heroes’ category.

Jones is quick to point out the scope of involvement in hockey. “Hocktober isn’t just about getting people to play hockey, it will cover all aspects of the sport from coaching to umpiring to volunteering to officiating.”

Certainly the movement has grabbed attention across Wales with primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and clubs all jumping on board.

Tournaments, taster days and skills competitions are being run across the nation, while some clubs are going the extra mile with some one-off special events.

Spearheading the campaign from the players’ perspective is Welsh hockey international and LGBT Sport Cymru Athlete Ambassador Beth Fisher.

“I am proud that Wales is leading the way in campaigning for equality and diversity on and off the pitch,” she said. “Hockey is an incredible sport and everyone should have the opportunity to play it. I hope the hockey family follow our lead.”

Cardiff & Met Hockey Club and Bangor Hockey Club are just two of the many clubs who have thrown their support behind the movement with all the players sporting bright rainbow laces in their hockey shoes. The laces are provided by Stonewall as part of its inclusivity in sport campaign.

#Hocktober is also being backed by hockey manufacturers, including FIH official supplier Grays. As part of their support, they have produced a commemorative stick, complete with rainbow-coloured head, for Fisher.

James Bushbridge, of Grays, said: “We were honoured to help Beth promote the diverse range of people that are part of the global hockey community. It has been a brilliant project and I hope her stick will inspire others to be proud to play.”

Hockey Wales has earned the praise of LGB&T Sport Cymru for its attitude towards inclusivity. Michelle Daltry, LGB&T Sport Cymru Chair says: “Hockey Wales has led the way with a committed and proactive approach to LGB&T inclusivity.”

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