Pitch perfect — new fields open hockey’s doors to everyone

Pitch perfect — new fields open hockey’s doors to everyone

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  • Sarah and Chris Field
    Sarah and Chris Field

The new pitches promote all levels of participation across the Cambridge community

Giving to hockey has been hugely rewarding

Chris Field

Hockey is a popular sport in Cambridge. Chris and Sarah Field were well aware of this as they cheered their sons on each week from the sidelines at various locations across Cambridge. The problem was a shortage of pitches around the town. It was increasingly difficult for the burgeoning number of teams to book games and training times.

With six teams operating out of the Cambridge University Hockey Club at the University Sports Ground at Wilberforce Road, there was a good opportunity to solve the problem as, while only having one pitch, they had planning permission for potentially two more. The Fields saw a need they were delighted to meet. Together, they made a generous donation providing for the creation of two new all-weather pitches.

“The motivation for the gift stemmed from watching our three sons grow up playing hockey, first as juniors and then as senior club players. It was an opportunity for us to give something back to hockey,” says Chris.

Wilberforce Road has been home to the University’s Hockey Club for more than 20 years, but the addition of the new pitches — with energy-efficient LED floodlighting — has created a premium facility for Cambridge and the East of England, enabling far more players to play, train and develop their skills. Sharing the site has also fostered a growing partnership between the Cambridge City Hockey Club, the University and Cambridge City Council, which had also identified the need for a hockey hub in its sports facilities strategy.

Helen Richardson-Walsh, formerly of Team GB and now a player and coach at the City Club says, “Being in the GB women’s squad and winning gold, we had a vision to inspire the future. We need the facilities for these young and older people to come and play the game, so it’s amazing having them here in Cambridge.”

Of course, the new pitches promote all levels of participation, from children learning the basics and having fun to those students at Cambridge who, alongside their studies, play a high standard of hockey in both the inter-University and regional leagues, to the City Clubs who provide for all standards and ages.

“Being able to facilitate 500 juniors training at one site can only be fantastic for the sport,” says Sarah. It is fantastic for the sport, too, that those 500 juniors can also watch our exceptional players honing their skills at a first-class facility.

While it has been, to say the least, an unusual year for any sport and for so much else, enthusiasm for uniting to play sport will no doubt be redoubled as we come out of the current phase of lockdown and isolation. The benefits of team sports for physical and mental health are widely proven, and we are thrilled that through the Fields’ generosity, our students — and the citizens of Cambridge — can participate in hockey at every level.

The University has developed a comprehensive vision for sport aimed at attracting philanthropic support to ensure that sportspeople at all levels can be supported while studying at Cambridge.

“It is important for us that we can help those who have serious sporting ambition, the students with the ability and desire to represent the University as well those who simply want to participate in activities that help them relax and take time out from the stresses of their studies,” says Nick Brooking, the University’s Director of Sport. “There is good evidence that positive use of time for extra-curricular activities such as sport helps people to perform well academically and develop as fully rounded individuals equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century.”

“All I can say, on behalf of Sarah and myself, is that giving to hockey has been hugely rewarding,” says Chris.

If you would like to find out more about how you can help, please contact:

Derek Wilson

Senior Associate Director — Sports, Clubs and Societies

derek.wilson@admin.cam.ac.uk

+44 (0)1223 330015 or mobile: +44 (0)7710 376604

This opportunity is part of

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Cambridge University Hockey Club, founded in 1890 and based at Wilberforce Road Sports Ground, is the largest and most successful university sports club in Cambridge.
2017 winning women's Cancer Research UK Boat Race crew
With a growing focus on student mental health nationally and within the collegiate University, sport and physical activity can play a key role in ensuring the wellbeing of our student community.