For the past couple of weeks the University of Sheffield Hockey Club has been outraged at Sport Sheffield’s decision to replace the bottom hockey pitch with a 3G surface that’s, unfortunately, not best suited to hockey.
I completely understand the Hockey Club’s frustration at not being fully consulted in this matter, but I have to say that I fully support Sport Sheffield’s decision in this case, if not the process in which they came about it.
A sense of aggrievement is completely normal when someone takes something away from you, I completely understand why this returfing would outrage the hockey community, but that doesn’t mean Sport Sheffield’s actions aren’t for the greater good of the sport community.
In their statement regarding the issue, the Hockey Club admit that the shock absorbers in the new 3G pitch make the surface suitable for competitive contact sports such as football, rugby, american football and lacrosse.
Furthermore, the current sports officer Ben Baldwin has already stated that hockey players ‘won’t lose any pitch time in terms of training or matches’.
He also adds, “In an ideal situation we would have more room. It’s a case of this pitch suiting more clubs in the future”.
What this debate boils down to is a matter of resources. What I’m about to say might offend some people, outrage others and quite possibly resonate with a few too, but here goes.
It’s only hockey.
I don’t mean this in terms of quality, I’m not making a statement regarding the valuation of hockey as a sport, as I’d be the first to admit I don’t play nor do I watch hockey. I’m talking purely in terms of student participation.
Nobody can argue that a 3G pitch capable of supporting the aforementioned contact sports, including football and rugby (the two most popular sports within Sports Sheffield) is less valuable to the student community than a pitch which primarily benefits hockey, and hockey alone.
Currently Sports Sheffield have one full sized 3G pitch, and two full size ‘hockey’ pitches. Considering the demand for both it seems completely reasonable for a restructuring of resources to be made.
The Hockey Club do have a legitimate argument about the quality of the single remaining hockey pitch (which is completely inadequate), and I fully support any campaign to have that surface relaid.
However, considering the assurances made that would prevent a decrease in both training and match time for hockey players, and taking into account the already over-congested facilities for the most popular contact sports, I simply cannot see a mature argument to suggest that Sports Sheffield should have two hockey pitches rather than two 3G ones.
I am arguing for this on behalf of all the sports clubs at the University of Sheffield.
Rather than think about the individual hockey club, I am thinking about the collective sports clubs.