Eastbourne Hockey Club enjoyed a day of celebration on Sunday as players, officials and esteemed guests officially opened the new pitch at the Saffrons.
Club chairman Andy Edwards welcomed the mayor of Eastbourne Janet Coles, Saffrons president David Stevens and England hockey goalkeeper Maddie Hinch to open the impressive looking facility .
The pitch-In campaign launched by the club back in Spetember 2013, helped raise a total of £250,000 to ensure the astro surface was brought, paid for and installed way ahead of schedule.
Chairman Edwards said, “When we started this we thought it would be a two or three year project. So to be standing here opening the pitch in just nine months is an incredible achievement from the entire club. The whole process has brought the club closer together. The events to help raise the money have all been well supported by all the teams.
“It took a lot of hard work to raise the money. A lot of forms had to be filled and a lot of work into dealing with the contractors to make sure the pitch was ready for the new season.”
The club raised £200,000 with the remaining £50,000 from Sport England. The pitch will predominantly be used by the hockey club but it will also be available to hire which will help generate additional income for the Saffrons.
Edwards added, “We have worked closely with all the other teams that use the Saffrons and we have to thank all the members of the Saffrons committee and the other teams for working with us on this.
“We plan to do more work in terms of the lights. But the main part of the project is complete and hopefully this can provide us with a great pitch for the next 10 to 15 years.”
Also at the club on Sunday was England hockey star Maddie Hinch. The 27-year-old keeper, who has been capped 48 times by England, signed autographs and posed for pictures with the junior players.
Recently Maddie helped England to Commonwealth Games Silver in Glasgow while she has also won silver for England at the EuroHockey Championships and bronze in the World League final.
Next up for Maddie will be the World Championships in Argentina before embarking on an Olympic qualifying campaign for Rio 2016.
Maddie said, “It’s great to be here today and it’s really impressive what they have achieved here at this club.
“It will certainly help encourage more people into the sport and that’s what club hockey is all about. To play on a pitch like this is great and it’s a great facility for the town.
Maddie added, “Occasions like this are great for inspiring the youngsters. As an England player it’s important and hopefully a few of kids will go away today thinking I can do that too.”
Maddie started goalkeeping after being told by a PE teacher that the way she threw herself around during rounders she might be better suited to a hockey goal.
Since then Maddie’s made a name for herself as a goalkeeping extraordinnaire, starting at Exmouth HC and working her way up to becoming England’s number one and making her senior debut against Germany in 2008. Since then she gained a degree in Sport & Exercise Science from Loughborough University, and when she’s not protecting hockey goals she’s coaching others to do the same.
“Goalkeeping is a very different position. You need to be certain type of person, perhaps a bit odd, but I found something I was good at and I wanted to take it as far as I could.
“To compete at the Commonwealth Games was great. It’s a such a buzz playing in front of the big crowds and we were 11 seconds away from the gold medal. We had to settle for silver but it has given us confidence and we know we can compete with the best.”
For further details visit:
www.eastbournehc.co.uk or email: firstname.lastname@example.org