Football and hockey – is there anything these two games have in common?
There are so many similarities between the games that many of the best male players that Pelicans Hockey Club has produced over the years have originally been footballers.
Footballers have good vision, are trained from an early age to pass back and across the pitch to retain possession, are always excellent at spotting the through ball and have great movement off the ball. Young hockey players of today have truly insane close skills.
So why do I draw the comparison between the two games? Well, though Pelicans is still attracting many female youngsters, sadly boys and young men don’t get much chance to play hockey in our local schools. Also too many outstanding King’s Lynn area footballers stop playing because there are not enough places in decent teams.
Pelicans HC has a place for young footballers though. I know from having stood on touchlines for 10 years talking to parents and players while watching my son play football for school, Clenchwarton and KLCF that many young men dream of a sporting career.
Frankly the chances of playing international hockey are far higher than playing Division 2 or 3 football as not as many people play hockey. Further, as not many state schools now play, there is a vast untapped pool of talent.
King’s Lynn actually has a great history of hockey success. Apart from the Pelican players that have gone on to represent their country and county the most important person in British Hockey today is Danny Kerry, the head coach of the England and Great Britain Women’s Hockey and performance director of Mens & Ladies Hockey.
He has taken the Ladies team to double Olympic success. Where did he go to school? King Edward VII.
Danny’s brother Sean continues to be a part of Pelicans Hockey club as chairman, a 1st team coach and a 1st team player of 30 years. Sean too received international caps during a hockey career with London’s Southgate, an equivalent of a football Premiership top four side.
Kath Johnson is an equally outstanding local hockey success: Double Olympian medalist, an ex-pupil of Springwood High School and still playing top level National League at 50.
Recently the Boys U15 Development team were back to back Norfolk League champions. This entailed playing Norwich City four times a year and beating them consistently. Likewise the Girls U15 Development team also won the league, beating Norwich.
The local talent and coaching ability are here but sadly, as with many other local sports, we lose our talented youngsters to University at 18. This would not be a problem if every year the local schools were inspiring 40 plus youngsters to come and receive coaching from Pelicans at Lynnsport where the club now boasts the finest astroturf pitches in East Anglia.
Please don’t think I’m decrying football, a game I love, far from it. However having seen first-hand the outstanding coaching of King’s Lynn Community Football I know that, if Pelicans had a fraction of that Lynn talent try hockey, then Pelicans would be back in the Premiership within four years.
And that talent is currently sitting in King Edward VII, Springwood High School, Marshland High, St Clements, King’s Lynn Academy, Downham High and Smithdon. And don’t be put off like one of my son’s friends who said hockey was too physical, as the level of contact is similar to football.
Even now due to the nature of the game Pelicans play Norwich, Cambridge, Ipswich, Peterborough and North London clubs. I would dearly love to see some of the talented lads disenchanted in playing village football or those who have stopped altogether try their hand at hockey.
If you are parent reading this do encourage your child to play a team sport, whatever it may be, as it helps boost teamwork, confidence, social interaction, fitness and friendship. As I tell all the children I coach, if you move home for university or work then a local sports club is a ready-made group of friends.
Pelicans run Junior training from the age of 6 within the season, September-April on a Saturday at Lynnsport and adult training sessions in the evenings during the week. We would also dearly love to see and welcome anyone in the area who is an ex-player or older player.
Contact Jon Brown on: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07780 693979.