By Jake Beleski
Students looking for a friendly, non-threatening way to get involved in hockey will now have that opportunity, albeit a slightly modified version.
Renegade hockey is an innovative game being trialled in schools around Wairarapa, with the aim of increasing participation in certain age groups.
It is played indoors with a soft, bouncy ball — with no goalies or umpires — and only two rules that players must abide by.
The ball must not be kicked deliberately, and players must look out for each other’s safety at all times.
Hockey Wairarapa regional development officer, Sharon Gates, was at Wairarapa College this week, and said a structured environment meant more children were willing to participate.
“I’ve been to Chanel College and Waicol just as a taster.
“Next year St Matthew’s is interested and Chanel will be covered again.
“We come and run it during PE sessions so everybody gets to have a go.”
If enough interest was created around the sport, there was the possibility of an inter-school tournament next year.
Gates said there were many factors that contributed to hockey’s dwindling player numbers in some age groups.
“We’re aiming for year 9 and 10 because that’s the age group that don’t play sport or want to drop out.
“A lot of them change sports or don’t play sports because school becomes too much.
“There’s all this other stuff going on that we’re fighting against, like all other sports.”
Renegade provides the opportunity for players of all skill-levels to participate, while also levelling the playing field because the skill-set required was slightly different to field hockey.
“Players who play traditional hockey can sometimes struggle initially, because the game requires different skills.
“The bouncy ball creates a whole new dynamic to the sport, while also decreasing the risk of injury if a person is struck,” Gates said, adding that hockey was still a sport children in this country were keen to try.
“The last Sport New Zealand stats said hockey was a sport kids would like to play.
“Even though we didn’t feature in the top 20, it’s still something they want to have a go at.
“We want to provide that opportunity.”