Hi Owen, there may be a few readers that are unaware of the recent achievements of UEA Men’s Hockey, could you sum it up for them?
Yeah absolutely, we have had quite a good few years now. So, last season we had our men’s 1s promoted to the highest league they have been in for many years, they are now in the first division locally. Our men’s 2s just missed out on promotion as well, on percentages. Then the year before that we had another round of promotions, the men’s 3s and the 1s as well. We have been progressing really quite well locally. A few more years back our Bucs first teams were also promoted and they even got to the finals of the conference cup.
Promotions galore! So how are you planning on making the step up now to compete at an even higher level?
Obviously, it is not ideal for any club captain or president right now with coronavirus, but I think as a committee and as a team we have dealt with it all really well, preparing the best we can. We have been securing friendly games and actually have a full pre-season planned which is something that we have not really done before. I think that could hopefully give us an advantage over teams that might not have played for 6 months or so. We have also managed to retain a lot of members this year and even added a couple of sports scholars– so I am hoping with all that we can have a good stab at these harder leagues!
What would be a successful season be in your eyes then?
Well I am going to be ambitious, there is no point not being ambitious. We are hoping to do the treble with another promotion, it will be difficult but looking at the boys we have in the squad we are more than capable. For the 2’s to miss out so narrowly again last year, I’m really hoping we can get them promoted this year because they are in the same league and still have a really strong group. The 3s and 4s are more beginner level teams, so a top 3 finish would be great, but all I can ask really is that everyone tries their very best.
You touched on it briefly before, I am sure a lot of prospective players are wondering about the barriers that coronavirus puts on hockey, and sports in general – could you shed some light?
On the pitch it will be exactly the same as usual.
I guess the only major barrier to the usual experience is on the social side. The LCR nights were a big part of hockey and with them not going ahead we are trying to organise stuff that fits all the new guidelines. That is probably the biggest challenge right now and I am sure other club presidents are feeling it too.
Also, the Bucs league are not doing promotion or relegation this year, so maybe a little competitiveness will be lost, but we are hoping to get a second team set up for that league so we can really maximise our hockey potential. However, we can still have all of our spectators, and people’s flat mates come and support us which is just so great.
For sure, is there anything you want to get across to these prospective UEA hockey maestros that may be reading then?
I think one thing we like to pride ourselves on is that we welcome anyone regardless of ability. I never even played hockey before coming to uni. (No way). Yeah, and now I am running this show! Really though, whatever your ability there is a place for you, we have some great coaches and I have come a really long way over the years so people definitely should not be put off if they are no good, because I definitely was not when I started! So even though the social side of things is a bit different I would encourage anyone to join a sports team, even if it is not hockey, because it can really provide such a great social bubble. I would also say that in hockey the men’s and women’s teams are so intertwined, basically doing everything together apart from matches so there is a huge family for you to join.
Thanks Owen, best of luck for the season.