Sponsorship deal makes Big Difference for Small Sticks hockey

27 June 2012

Hockey New Zealand has received a major boost in its goal of introducing more than 100,000 Kiwi kids to the sport over the next five years.

New Zealand Post has agreed to sponsor ‘Small Sticks’ – Hockey New Zealand’s national junior programme for children aged between 4 and 13 years.

“We piloted this last year throughout New Zealand, very successfully, with 1500 children - and this support from New Zealand Post will allow us to scale that up to involve 20,000 school children in 2013,” Hockey New Zealand’s chief executive Hilary Poole said today.

Under the six-figure sponsorship deal New Zealand Post will support the junior programme – which will now be officially branded as “ActivePost Small Sticks” – for at least the next two years, with an option to renew.

ActivePost Small Sticks programmes will be made available in hundreds of schools across the country, and through community sporting bodies.  The programmes include a series of age-based modules – starting with basic skills and building up to full-field 11-a-side hockey.

“It’s a game-based programme, so children learn as they play,” Hilary Poole says. “As they play they develop movement, balance and timing skills - which can also be transferred to their other sporting activities.

“We’re going to significant lengths to ensure this is a quality programme where kids get access to consistent game formats, properly skilled coaches and officials, and equipment – no matter where they are in the country. 

“For example, with the in-school programme we’ll be providing teachers with at least four coaching sessions from an accredited coach, and we’ll also be providing resource kits, recruitment materials and a festival day at the end of the programme to celebrate their involvement.”

“Hockey is already one of the country’s fastest growing sports – with 65,000 registered players (up 7% from last year).  Our national mens and womens teams, the Black Sticks, are both Top-8 ranked in the world.  Encouraging young people to try hockey, in the knowledge that a lot of them are going to really love it, can only be good for the future of the sport,” Hilary Poole said.

New Zealand Post’s head of sponsorship, Nicola Airey, says youth hockey is a perfect fit for the ActivePost programme - a major sponsorship initiative by New Zealand Post which encourages Kiwis to get involved in community sports. 

“ActivePost already plays a major role in campaigns to increase public participation in sports and recreation in association with Water Safety New Zealand and Athletics New Zealand, and we’re also the chief sponsor of Waka Ama New Zealand,” Nicola Airey says. 

“Junior hockey fits in well alongside those existing sponsorships.  It’s a growing sport which is very healthy and family-oriented – and is accessible to a wide range of people – irrespective of gender, age, ethnicity or location. 

“Hockey can be played on a wide variety of surfaces, year round, without the need for wildly expensive specialised facilities – so it can be played across urban and rural parts of New Zealand. 

“The fact that hockey also has a strong, well organised national body, in the form of Hockey New Zealand, sealed the deal.  

“New Zealand Post is excited to work alongside Hockey New Zealand to help increase Kiwi kids’ exposure to this enjoyable and accessible sport,” Nicola Airey said.