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Growing Hockey Within the Military in the United Kingdom

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25 Royal Air Force Ladies from all over the country descended on RAF Cosford on Sunday 25th September in preparation for the first ladies only ice hockey taster day.

The ladies were welcomed to the Cosford Stars clubhouse by the overwhelming odour of over 30 hockey kits awaiting distribution, nerves become evident and questions were asked as to why so much protection was required for ‘a gentle game of hockey on ice’.

The nerves soon turned to giggles during the kit fitting as the coaching staff removed elbow pads from Knee caps and with the use of a lot of ‘bodge tape’ were satisfied that the ladies would be adequately protected on the ice.

Monday Morning started with an off ice session in the station gymnasium; the session was designed to give the ladies a feel for the ice hockey sticks and pucks which are very different from field hockey which many had experience of. With confidence in their new found skills the bus arrived to transport the ladies and kit to Telford Ice rink.

‘Death wellies’ or ‘NHS Skates’ as they are commonly known were loaned from the Rink before the group were given a quick lesson on the different parts of the kit and how to wear them. After many selfies were posted to Social media the group finally made it onto the ice.

Coach CT Andy Harris led the session focusing on basic skating and puck handling skills. There were some fantastic Superman impressions and the skaters were in fits of laughter as they attempted to right themselves wearing so much equipment. The improvement in the ability over this 1.5 hour session was staggering and the ladies really got stuck in.

After a short lunch break which saw most of the group descend on a local fast food restaurant in full hockey gear much to the surprise of the locals it was time for the second on ice session.

Coach Harris impressed with the mornings achievements really stretched the girls with small area shooting and puck protection drills; usually reserved for much more experienced players. Again the ladies exceeded expectations and were deemed ready to participate in a full ice game, a credit to their effort and achievements in the drills.


The ladies were split into teams and the puck was dropped, positioning was quickly worked out with the group soon looking like a real ice hockey team. All too soon the time was up and the whistle blown with a final score line of 1-1.

Skates and kit were removed with a bruise and blister count into the hundreds with the ladies all agreeing that the discomfort was worth it leaving RAF Cosford with a newfound passion for the sport.

– Sgt Jennie Anstey

 

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