Shimmering silver on the podium recently at the EuroHockey Junior Nations in Prague, Scotland’s U21 women shone light on shirt sponsors MacRoberts and PKF Accountants.
U21s manager Sheila Gray said: “We are so thankful to these sponsors for their support. We’ve achieved a lot this year and wouldn’t have been able do it without them.”
In contrast to many other international athletes, hockey players themselves make considerable contribution to costs, and costs are high.
Gray explained: “It costs around £3,000 per player to prepare for and compete in just one European tournament. The support we received from PKF and MacRoberts represents approximately 10% of our programme cost for this year alone and is very much appreciated.”
The U21 women’s 2008 programme has been an ambitious one, including matches against Germany, England and Poland, as well as participation in the Celtic Cup, held in Edinburgh this June, involving sides from France, Wales and Ireland.
The squad ran European champions Germany very close, defeated England twice, recorded three wins out of three against Poland and won the Celtic Cup. To engage in such a programme and achieve such success requires substantial financial investment.
As a result, the women have also made a huge effort to secure personal sponsorship this year. Personal sponsors to mention include:
Keyline (Amy Rowan and Becky Ward-both Dundee Wanderers), Genesis Consulting (Nikki Kidd-Bonagrass Grove and Emily Maguire-Kelburne), Edgeview Ltd and J&J Wilson Ltd (Kimi Bright-Giffnock), Wood Mackenzie (Becky Merchant-Bonagrass Grove), Pacitti Jones (Susan McGilveray-GHK), Argyle Consulting (Kay Bartlett-Milne Craig Western) and Expro (Siobhan Price-Edinburgh University).
On top of personal sponsorship, Keyline helped supply track suits for the squad.
Coach Dave Stott said: “Without the level of competition created at several of our intense camps this year, against teams from all over Europe, we wouldn’t have seen nearly the same level of development.
“With sponsorship this year we were, firstly, able to participate in more camps but more importantly for longer periods of time, five to seven days as opposed to just weekends. Research has shown longer straight sets of training significantly help players to improve skills and fitness.”
Gray added: “Competitive international sport is a big financial responsibility, which is no easy matter for girls attempting to combine university courses or first jobs with what is virtually a full-time commitment to sport.”
Grants from sportscotland and Scottish Hockey, combined with player contributions, go some way to meeting these costs but cover only a fraction. The good news is funding provided by sponsors is eligible to be matched pound for pound by the Government under the Sports Match scheme.
Every penny of sponsorship supports training costs of Scotland’s talented young athletes, providing specialist coaching, sports science and other services enabling Scotland to win. Interested in becoming a sponsor?
Now is the time as 2008 represents one of the most exciting periods in more than one hundred years of Scottish Hockey’s history, with initial preparations being put in place for high ambitions at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
This year Scotland has an exciting and talented squad of young players, many of whom have already achieved much in the hockey world. Laura Bartlett has represented Great Britain in the Youth Olympiad of 2007 in Australia and is currently a member of the GB squad preparing to compete in the Beijing Olympics. She was joined in Australia by Becky Merchant and Nikki Kidd. Nikki was also a member of the Scotland Senior squad that competed in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and in the World Cup Qualifier the same year.
Laura, Becky, Nikki and other players in this squad are likely to form the nucleus of Scotland’s team in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and several will be in the running for selection for the 2012 London Olympics.