Junior Section 1 of 9

1. Junior Hockey at DRHC - an EH Talent Centre


Introduction
Deeside Ramblers has a thriving junior section. We welcome all abilities and have proven track record of making sure all our junior members get the chance to play as regularly as they want and to the highest level their skill and determination will take them.

We are an England Hockey Talent Centre
We are one of England Hockey's 20 accredited 'Talent Centres' nationwide, recognising the high quality environment we provide for young players to develop and achieve their potential. To be awarded this accreditation, the Club was assessed against criteria across a wide range of areas including coaching, talent development provisions, athlete wellbeing and governance.

We offer hockey for boys and girls of primary school age upwards (minimum age of 4). The only squads we select purely on ability are those taking part in England Hockey championship competitions. All other activities are inclusive with the aim of providing enjoyable hockey for all ages and abilities.

Our coaches
We are lucky to have the services of highly experienced coaches throughout the Club. Our qualified coaches supervise all junior training sessions. Ex-Pakistan Captain Ali Ghazanfar and Academy Centre coach Beth Alvey oversee Badgers and Beavers training sessions. Jon Marshall (E.H. Talent Academy coach) provides specialist goalkeeper training for our junior members. Older juniors take part in the Men’s and Ladies training sessions led by Andy Mitchell and Paul Dutton respectively. And Matt Cocks supervises our weekly Sunday training for younger children, with help from an army of mums, dads and older player pathway juniors.

Junior Training and Matches

PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN
For primary school children in school years reception (minimum age of 4) through to year 5, we hold weekly training on Sunday mornings for all standards, including complete beginners. We also welcome to these sessions those in year 6 who are complete beginners - so we can give them a solid grounding in the basics of hockey - many of them quickly then transition into Beavers (see below). The usual start time is 10:30am and we finish at 12pm. Whilst sessions are every week, we alternate each week between (1) skills coaching (which includes matchplay) for all age groups, and (2) pure matchplay for the u8 and u10 age groups (those in years 3, 4 and 5).

So our very youngest Ramblers (in Reception to year 2) will attend every other Sunday; those in year 3 upwards can come every Sunday.

Sunday junior training is a very social affair, with tea, coffee and cakes, plus sausage or bacon baps, available at the club bar. New members are always welcome - you'll need a gum shield and shin pads to take part but we can lend you a hockey stick. Particularly if you're new to the club, see the page Junior Hockey for 2022/23 for guidance of how to come along and join us.

We also organise half-pitch, 7-a-side, friendly tournaments against other local clubs for this age group.

For those in school year 6, we usually suggest attending training with the Beavers on Monday evenings unless they are complete beginners. And in any event they are welcome to come to Sunday morning training instead if that fits with the family diary.

SCHOOL YEARS 6 - 10
Beavers and Badgers are our main entry points into full-pitch, 11-a-side hockey for boys and girls in these school years. All training and matches are inclusive, with teams balanced to allow everyone to take part. The emphasis is on competitive enjoyment, rather than beating the opposition at all costs.

Beavers: Our Beavers teams include school children from years 7 and 8, and year 6s when they are ready for full matchplay. Beavers (including year 6 children) train every Monday evening and play competitive (but friendly) matches against local clubs every Saturday afternoon. For year 6s who are not yet ready for full-pitch matches, we arrange frequent half pitch matches / mini-tournaments against other local clubs instead.

After Beavers, girls who have reached the age of 13 either join the Ladies section and play with the Ladies teams, or spend some time in Badgers. Typically, boys continue playing in our Badgers teams whilst in year 9.

Badgers: Mainly aimed at school children in years 9 and 10 but older children can also play in Badgers. Like Beavers, the Badgers train every Monday evening and play competitive (but friendly) matches against local clubs every Saturday afternoon.

Juniors playing in adult teams: When boys and girls 13 and over are physically and emotionally ready for the challenge, we will consider whether include them in our senior teams. Typically, girls join the Ladies section at 13 (year 9 or 10); boys usually join the men's teams in school year 10 or 11. However, these decisions are player-centred and based on what is best for the individual player at that moment in time and in their individual circumstances. Full details of the club's policy on the transition of juniors into senior hockey are available here.

Age Group Competition Squads: We also enter separate girls and boys teams into the England Hockey Championships for all age groups (u10, u12, u14, u16 and u18) and the Club has a consistent record of success at local, regional and national levels.

Talent Development
England Hockey promotes a policy of “Right Athlete – Right Environment” (RARE) to describe how players and parents can take informed decisions about which hockey environments (club, school, county hockey, national talent pathways) are best for an individual player.

As a Club are fully aligned with that policy and we will always try to support our players and parents to make the very best decisions about the most appropriate hockey environment(s) to attend to achieve what they are aiming for.

In the vast majority of cases, players who start their hockey career at Deeside Ramblers stay at Deeside Ramblers, as we have teams playing at all levels, right up to national league, and the quality of coaching at the Club reflects this. Indeed, we have often welcomed players to the Club who feel that they need to move to Deeside Ramblers because their existing club cannot offer them the right environment – particularly in terms of stretch and fulfilling their potential.

But we recognise that players may feel, for whatever reason, that they need to play their hockey elsewhere. When that happens, we are committed to helping and supporting those players on their hockey journey. And we always keep the door open for them to return if they would like to – and we find that many do just that.

You can read more about England Hockey's Talent System Framework here. And see the page in this section about the current England Hockey Player Pathway.