Windsor Knights Hockey Club
Windsor Knights Hockey Club has a philosophy of providing hockey for everyone and is playing an important role in the local community. Sport in Profile Magazine recently caught up with Club Representative Darryl Kinsey to find out more about the good work they’ve been doing lately.
He told us, “I joined the club last year. I actually started by looking for some local hockey to photograph to improve my hockey skills. After posting the photos for the players to use, I became friends with the team. Completely separately, I started to learn to skate with the wife and after a few weeks, I was invited to come down to a training session.
I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve been watching Ice Hockey since I was fifteen when I went to the Manchester Storm with my parents in the mid 90’s but never had the thought that I could possibly play the sport. The Knights gave me that opportunity.”
“I have a couple of roles within the club. Firstly, I joined as a player and definitely class myself as a development player. In that aspect, every training session, every game, there’s a personal goal to improve myself. Whether it be my skating, stickhandling or just general fitness, I’m always looking to better myself.
The most recent role I’ve taken is the role of Ice Hockey Team Manager. This involves social media promotion, being the first point of contact for all players and also integrating new players into the team, from the moment they contact the club, to when they turn up for their training session. I get a big kick out of seeing someone play their first game after knowing that it all started out as a general enquiry into the Facebook page or an email through the website.”
“We’re all very excited at the moment. The Windsor Knights started five years ago as an Ice Hockey team. We’re now a club with four different teams under the Windsor Knights banner, all started from scratch, all-encompassing the #hockey4everyone policy that we pride ourselves on.
The Ice Hockey Team, Inline Team, Ball Hockey Team and Junior Inline Team are all very much part of the Windsor Knights family and we’re all working towards bringing more people into the sport.”
“From an Ice perspective, we’ve completely overhauled how people join the club. Whereas before, we always welcomed people in, we’ve now simplified the process through our Facebook page, Twitter account and website.
This has resulted in people being able to find us easily and we’ve introduced several new players to the club, some who are taking their first steps in the sport, some returning after playing in youth teams and some who are just looking for a new team in the area. Simplifying any barriers to entry has been a massive success and we’ve seen our numbers swell with players of all abilities joining our ranks.”
“The Inline Team have been training just under a year, have just entered a league and played their first games so there is a lot of excitement there. The Inline Team Manager, Owen Warne, found us at a Wokingham Fayre and from the first session where he turned up as a player, he now gives up his team to manage the Inline Club and he’s done a fantastic job bringing the Inline Team to the point they are now, in a very short space of time. We’re very lucky to have him.”
The Junior Inline Club, run by Sam Bidmead, is just over one year old now and the team have just played their first ever game … which they won! The pride on Sam and Chairman Dan’s face was an absolute treat. Some of these children had never skated before but you would never have guessed it. We’ve just introduced a learn to play section for 1-4 year olds as well. They’re so cute and it gives them a chance to come to the hall and hit a ball with a stick, what child wouldn’t want to do that?”
“The Ball Hockey Team haven’t joined a league yet but we did just host the first annual Windsor Knights Ball Hockey Tournament. Eight teams came together to battle each other in a competitive (but friendly) tournament. The tournament was a massive success and we were able to give opportunities to people who had never played before as well as a disabled gentleman who got stuck right in and was one of the stars of his team.”
“All clubs have been overseen and all had massive contribution by Chairman Dan Pearce. If it wasn’t for him, this club would’ve stood still and possibly folded years ago. I’m not sure how he managed a personal life to be honest! We’ve assembled a really dedicated team here, all people who give up their personal time for free and do it for the love of the club and the sport.
We also have Club Secretary Angela Holland who makes sure our books are in order and plays all of the adult sports as well.”
“From an Ice Hockey perspective, we’re introducing two new teams. The Development Team will continue as normal as it has. The new Elite Team will take the best players and will pit them against the best other recreational hockey teams. The idea behind this is that the more talented players will get to remain competitive.
The Development Team will continue to play games against similar level teams but will also have an incentive to push themselves to improve to try and make the Elite Team. The Veterans Team will be a team of over 35’s who will play less games than the other teams but will give an opportunity for people who may not necessarily have time to commit to the sport full time but still want to be in and around the game.
The number 1 aim across all teams is to keep getting people involved. There’s simply no reason why someone can’t play hockey in some form.”
“From an Ice Hockey perspective, we can’t accept players under 18 at the moment. If anyone under 18 is looking to play the sport, we always point them towards the Slough Jets who have a youth programme.
The Inline team is a different prospect as we’ve got both Senior and Junior teams. In reality, both clubs have been around for a year so we’ve not had the opportunity to bring them through yet but that’s definitely the plan.”
We’re absolutely a community club! We’re very much an inclusive club. We’re a local team filled with people all around the community. We’re always looking to get people involved on or off the rink.
Even if people don’t want to get involved playing, we offer the opportunity to get involved and support the club in other ways. All our games are played in a public space and entry is free to everyone who wants to just pop by and watch.”
“Rising costs forcing people away from the game is a major challenge. Ice especially. It costs nearly £500 to host a game which has to be the highest of any amateur sport. It’s already a very expensive sport with the purchase of kit, coupled with late training times that make player retention single biggest challenge. That being said, player retention is something we tend to do well. People stick around because they see what we’re trying to do and they want to be a part of it.
Our ambition is to continue to grow and offer hockey to as many people as possible. There’s potential to start even more teams, Junior Ball Hockey, Sledge Hockey, Women’s Hockey, they are all realistic options in the future. At the moment, all of our teams are open to both male and female players but if there’s a Men’s or a Women only league that we could enter them in, and there’s enough interest, why not?”