UK government are not doing enough to teach team sports in schools, says England Hockey boss – iNews

England Hockey chief executive Nick Pink has said sports governing bodies are having to teach basic skills to young players that they are not learning in school. He added that this was one of the driving factors that led to the England women’s and men’s teams writing a letter to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak last month calling on government support to back provision of PE and team sports at schools.
With England and Wales bidding to host the Men’s World Cup in 2026, with the final to take place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Pink also told i that the body would have considered bidding to host a combined Men’s and Women’s event if it thought that option was available.
Last month, England’s two senior hockey teams, fresh off gold and bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games wrote to then-Conservative leadership candidates Truss and Sunak urging them to increase backing for team sport in schools.
And Pink said a lack of strategy at a national level in school sport since the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition was elected in 2010 was the main reason strategy changed.
“The strategy went because there was a government change,” Pink said. “My first job in sport was with the Youth Sport Trust 20 years ago and I’ve seen the value of good strategy, good PE/school sport programming and the impact that’s had in primary and secondary schools. And we had a structure that was the envy of the world.
“What we’ve seen this last 10-12 years is a decreasing number of hours that schools have been able to offer, a decreasing level of priority around PE and school sport, and what it’s meant for governing bodies like ours and others is that without a quality of provision in place for children and young people of all ages, it then makes it harder for our sports to be able to pick up those young people and provide them with a high-quality experience in our space. Because you’re almost starting back down to the fundamental skill development that’s required – even just the general movement and development skills that young people have.”
As for the World Cup bid, England are in the running to host the men’s event, but a joint Belgium/Netherlands and South Africa have bid for both the men’s and women’s event at the same time.
“In the FIH bid process, they made it clear to us that it’s one or the other, it’s not both,” Pink said.
In relation to the joint men’s and women’s bids, Pink added: “My first question to the FIH was: ‘how?’ In the bid documents it’s pretty clear. There’s two boxes, there’s men or women, there’s not a third box. That’s something I’ve taken up with the FIH separately.
“We stlll believe we’ve got a great bid so I’m pretty confident that whatever we go up against, we’ve got a great proposition for the FIH to consider.”
Would England Hockey have bid for both?
“It’s a different scale of event, when you’re putting both together,” Pink said. “I haven’t got a crystal ball to answer the question. We would have given it a really good consideration, there’s no doubt about it.
“There’s a real sense of commitment around women’s sport at the moment. It’s a really positive agenda, and we’re right behind it. It’s about time, arguably across the board, to see the profile the women’s cricketers are getting currently in the Hundred, for example, to see obviously what happened in women’s football, and names that suddenly become household names and personalities.”
And Pink said the sport’s inclusivity between men and women is one of the main reasons people should get involved in it.
“When you walk into most schools or clubs that are taking part in hockey, you see boys and girls or men and women and you get that breadth and you see all that change and it’s not abnormal, it’s not forced,” he said.
And Pink is confident that both England teams are on the right track – the women won their first ever Commonwealth gold in Birmingham while the men claimed bronze – and that is a good reason to watch the new domestic season, which starts on 24 September.
“We’ve got a nice blend of real experience and a number of new faces coming through and doing really well,” Pink said of the women’s team. “And you’ll have seen that with players like Fiona Crackles, Lily Walker, even Tess Howard. Just seeing how she came back from injury and sadly missing out on Tokyo last year and still young and will be with us for many years to come.
“If you take something like Commonwealth Games gold medallists and bronze medallists – let’s not forget what the lads achieved as well – both going into domestic action in the coming weeks, absolutely we should be promoting those opportunities for people to go and watch those amazing athletes and their colleagues and their equally amazing players that they play alongside for the next season.”
England Hockey and Hockey Wales are bidding to host the 2026 Men’s World Cup. To find out more and lend your support, search ‘Back the Bid’
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