A-Z of school sport

28th November 1997 at 00:00
H IS FOR HOCKEY

WHO DOES IT?

Around 200,000 young people aged between six and 16 get the sticks out once a week. Seventh most popular sport in Britain, with girls outnumbering boys. Under-11s play mini-hockey at seven-a-side, often indoors. Over-11s play 11-a-side. New Lottery money to help elite players train.

TIME NEEDED

At least a double period during the week to develop skills. Full games are 35 minutes each way, though may differ in many schools' competitions. State schools play after school; independents may play at weekends.

COSTS

Sticks range from plastic indoor ones at Pounds 11 each to larger outdoor ones starting at Pounds 18; balls from Pounds 1.25; goals from Pounds 475 with nets from Pounds 70 (don't forget, you need two of each!). For training, however, Pounds 2 cones can be used to mark goal areas.

KIT

Girls wear short skirts, polo-type shirts and long socks: total about Pounds 16; boys wear shorts, shirt (can be rugby-style) and socks. Protection for goalies is very important: leg-guards from Pounds 49.95, boot kickers from Pounds 16.95, gloves from Pounds 9.25 and chest protec-tors from Pounds 10.95. Some manufacturers offer starter kits for schools from about Pounds 165.

PHYSICAL BENEFITS

A fast-running game which develops motor skills and co-ordination. Unfairly blamed for females having large bottoms.

PHYSICAL DISADVANTAGES

Cold, muddy fields. Smart thwacks across the shins. Stray balls causing black eyes. Gum-shields recommended.

SOCIAL BENEFITS

Team sports build team working. Fast-thinking and strategy crucial. Fast-growing sport with boys. Men won gold in 1988 Olympics; women bronze in 1992.

SOCIAL DISADVANTAGES

Still (unfairly, see above) tarred with "jolly hockey sticks" image, especially among girls.

PREMISES

Sports field ideal, but can be played in sports hall with cones. Astro-turf growing in popularity. An end to muddy boots!

INSURANCE

As for school THEY LOVE IT BECAUSE

It means charging round a huge empty outdoor space yelling encouragement at each other, with the intense triumph of shooting a goal and the feeling of having had a great work-out.

THEY HATE IT BECAUSE

Captains with bad strategy can end upleaving defence or wings out of the game, which is boring - and cold.Ball control is complex, and until you have some degree of skill at shooting, it can be very frustrating. Seen as a traditionally single-sex game, it can seem unglamorous.

VICTORIA NEUMARK

More information from: Gill Oliver at Hockeywise, English Hockey Association, The Stadium, Silbury Boulevard, Milton Keynes. Tel: 01908 689280

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