“Cardiff has always been home for me, it feels right to return at this point.”

Dale Hutchinson returns to Cardiff & Met HC

I believe I was 8 years old when I attended my first training session for Cardiff Hockey Club – the sessions were delivered by a fantastic man called Andy Griffiths, who also got my brother into hockey prior to me. As I progressed out of the youth section, I was guided into the lower level men’s teams at around 13 years old, and progressed to debut for the 1st team aged 14 or 15. Prior to becoming a regular in the 1st team, I played a couple of years in the 2nd team in my developmental years alongside current Men’s 1st team coach Walid Abdo. I believe Walid was player-coach at that time and many people who cared about my development as a home-grown player supported me during this period.

South Wales junior matches for Cardiff

Upon leaving Fitzalan School and earning a regular 1st team spot, I really struggled to break through as a starting player for quite some time. I had potential, but it was difficult to achieve consistency that held me back in the adult game. This element of my game became a real focus for me. It took commitment, hard work and lots of practice to achieve, but the reward came in increasingly regular 1st team appearances.  Following a hard-earned 1st team breakthrough, I enrolled onto an undergraduate degree at Cardiff Met University, which was my first taste of a performance hockey programme and helped me learn about the commitment required on aspects of training and performance that sit outside of the hockey pitch. Playing 2 games a week, 4-5 hours of pitch training, plus gym work and performance analysis, all accelerated my development. This helped with my physical state dramatically, which gave me the attributes to be considered for the Welsh Men’s selection.

Dale in action for Cardiff & Met 2nd vs Exeter University

Whilst studying and competing at university, I made my debut for Wales Men in the summer of 2014, aged 19. We had many new members and young players breaking into the squad alongside me, it was a big shift in the system and I learnt a lot about the physicality of the international game by well-established senior internationals. As I established myself in the years following my debut, the team developed a strong connection between the players, support staff and coaches. This began to show throughout major tournaments, as we achieved back-to-back promotions from Eurohockey Nations Championship III to the Eurohockey Championships in Antwerp 2019 – the difference 3 years makes! Our hard-earned international success is what gave me the opportunities to make hockey a profession for me, as it will with many others after me who wish to do so.

I’ve learnt an incredible amount whilst living in the Netherlands, both on and off the pitch. I suppose in relation to on-pitch development, my technical ability has come on leaps and bounds, and that just comes down to a considerable amount of coaching and time spent at the pitch. Probably playing against some of the best players in the world has helped my game, as well as exposed it! The time and detail that goes into the sport there is phenomenal though – very professional and highly participated. I remember when I first began to coach in NL, there were hundreds of kids across a few pitches, many as young as 5 years old.

The way of life there is slightly different – a bit slower and more measured in comparison to the UK. The Dutch are an intelligent lot and they are not shy to say what they think – I became accustomed to that. They are great people, and I cannot express enough how much I enjoyed my time there, and how much I learnt. I had the great privilege in my final 2 years in NL of playing for HC Tilburg, being coached by Jeroen Delmee (5x Olympian). That’s a real eye-opener to the amount of commitment that the Dutch give to the sport there. I promise if you spend a day at the pitch with him, you will learn a month’s worth of knowledge.

Hockey as a profession leaves a lot of time for thought, which allowed me to realise it was time for something different. I thoroughly enjoyed my years in the Netherlands, but at the beginning of the 19/20 season, I had a thought that this may be my final year abroad and did not wish to spoil it by forcing another. I have been away from Cardiff & Met HC for 4 years now, and it is great to see they’re still in a great position.

Cardiff & Met 1st – 3rd promotion playoff @ Lee Valley HTC

It feels good to be back in Cardiff – it will be a change of lifestyle to what I had in NL but I am looking forward to it. It will be a different challenge for me coming back, and again I’ll have a different role in the team. Some of the guys are still here from when I left, and I’m sure that same tight-knit team feel is still there and besides hockey, Cardiff is just a great city to be in! I hope I can contribute enough to help C&M HC gain promotion but I know it’s not that easy. I would love to see this club in the Premier Division in the next year or two, and really establish ourselves as a Prem side in the years following promotion. I will do my bit to help improve the individuals around me that will help to improve us as a team. I know the squad is younger than when I was last here, so it will be great to see what has changed and how the squad will progress.

As a side note, it is also great to see the youth system running smoothly as well, so to maintain and build that in the direction that it’s currently going would be beneficial to all in years to come. I hope to see many of them throughout the year, whether that is alongside me on the pitch, or pitch side to watch! You learn fast being a young player on the pitch, and also learn plenty by just watching on the side-line. It also shows that you’re interested and keen to be involved; people will take note of that and be more aware of you coming through the ranks to support your future success.  

Dale Hutchinson
Men’s 1st
Wales Senior 

Return to Play Update September 2020

Throughout July and August, the club has been working hard to return our members to Hockey activity in a safe and supportive manner. At present the Men’s Performance Squad are back into training at Sport Wales, operating at phase 4 of the RTP Model for Hockey in Wales. The quantity of international athletes has resulted in special dispensation by Hockey Wales to return to competitive training and match play from September onwards.

Further progress in facility provision at Sport Wales, means that the Men’s Club training session, for players in M2 – M5 returns on Thursday 3rd September, from 18.00. The return to play coordinated by Men’s COVID-19 Officer Paul Edwards and newly appointed Men’s Club Coach Jack Rhys-Brown, has yielded great interest and is likely to see its largest attendance in many years, which is great news for the men’s senior club teams.

At Cyncoed, the Club has been liaising with Cardiff Met Sport to facilitate a slightly more complicated RTP process, dictated by the Cardiff Met Sport and Cardiff Met University. In late august an initial group of 30 Ladies’ players were able to return to play on Monday and Thursday evenings. Well-organised and implemented safety procedures by Cardiff Met Sport have enabled an additional group of 30 ladies’ players to return to training. Throughout September a training group of 30 will participate on Mondays (primarily L1 & 2), followed by a separate 30-strong player group on Thursdays (L3, 4 & New members). As the University confirms facility requirements of the academic timetable and student sport, we anticipate a further modification to the training schedule at the end of September. 

BUCS pre-season begins for the Men’s and Ladies’ performance squads in September, with Head Coaches Ieuan Davies and Alf Dinnie preparing the players for the first season where both Men’s and Ladies’ teams compete in the National Premier League. Both squads will benefit from the healthy intake of first year students who will reinforce the quality and depth of the squads. Meanwhile, we eagerly anticipate the return of the wider BUCS players late in September and into October as fresher’s week commences on Monday 28th September. 

Work continues to return the Junior Academy to training in September/October as staff members work through operational plans, risk assessments, staff training and liaise with VCEG & the University Health and Safety committee, who are implementing a phased return to Campus. We would like to reinforce that we are taking necessary steps in conjunction with Cardiff Met Sport to get the Junior Academy back on the pitch as part of a safe campus environment and will update our members as progress is made.

We are pleased that we have been able to facilitate a return to hockey for around 180 members in September, which comprises the vast majority of our membership. As government, NGB and facility guidance changes over coming weeks and students return, you may experience some minor changes in session times, duration, activities permitted and quantity of participants in attendance. This may result in further access to training and competition environments or backwards steps if these are necessary to keep our community safe.

An update from Hockey Wales has advised of a move to ‘PHASE 3 adapted contact hockey activities’. Guidance for clubs, coaches and players can be found using the below links. Meanwhile, the Welsh Government continues to dictate a maximum of 30 persons, inclusive of staff and coaches per training session. 

Guidance for Club
Guidance for Coaches
Guidance for Players

The overarching intention remains to ensure a safe return to play for all members in line with current and changing NGB, Government and facility provider guidance, which may result in some minor changes in training day, time and duration to provide pitch access for all members. Following this, coaches will be working to ensure appropriate preparations for respective league seasons. At present, league seasons are due to start as outlined in the August RTP Update

We appreciate and thank you for your ongoing patience, support and proactivity in adopting the new and necessary steps to allow a safe return to Hockey. If you are interested in helping the club to continue the return to play, progress towards competitive fixtures or lend a hand with general day-to-day tasks associated with club life, please do contact us, as we would love you to be involved.

Meanwhile we hope you are all safe, maintaining your personal health & fitness and enjoying being back on the pitch.

Mark Shelton Men’s Chairperson

Ffion Robinson – Ladies Chairperson

Mark Shelton – Men’s Chair
Ffion Robinson – Ladies Chair

Return to Play Update August 2020

As we progress into august and as things move towards a new normal, we hope you are keeping safe and well whilst adapting to the updates and changes taking place in society. Return to play guidance by Hockey Wales locates us in Phase 2: non-contact socially distanced hockey activity with a maximum of 30 people on a pitch at once.  At first glance implementing this may appear straightforward however in working with Cardiff Met Sport and Sport Wales as facility providers, there are a large number of considerations that come with complex organisation of their nature. At the present time, the Club committee and appointed COVID-19 officers are working through government, NGB and facility guidance to create a safe, phased return to training for Senior, Junior and BUCS environments. To echo the recent words of the CEO for Sport Wales: “We are asking club members to remain patient as there are several challenges still to overcome. Particularly the sign-off and implementation of detailed operational procedures and risk mitigation plans that NGBs, the Club and facility providers are required to have in place.”

In working closely with facility providers we have been able to facilitate a return to training for the Mens and Ladies performance squads during August, under a closely monitored environment to ensure the safety of the players, staff, facility providers and those who they are in close contact with on a daily basis. Should initial closely monitored steps prove positive, the intention is to return BUCS Performance squads and C&MHC club training from September, pending approval of required documentation, protocols and providing government and NGB guidance permits. There is currently no anticipated date for the return of the Junior academy, an update will be provided once we receive communication from Cardiff Met Sport.

We will endeavour to update club members on a regular basis via team coaches, remaining committed to providing all members with an opportunity to get back on the pitch and experience the benefits of playing Hockey at Cardiff & Met HC.

While the work continues, we eagerly anticipate seeing you all back on the pitch soon as is possible and recommend club members take time to read the guidance provided by Hockey Wales.

Cardiff & Met HC Committee

Guidance for Club Coaches

Guidance for Club Players

Key Dates (as of 5/8/2020)

  • Saturday 27th September – England Hockey National League start date
  • Saturday 24th October – West Hockey League start date
  • Saturday 31st October – South Wales Womens Hockey League start date (Tentative – TBC)

Masters’ Summer of 2019

With no Masters Hockey this summer we look back at the Masters’ Summer of 2019.

Ladies Masters Club Tournament – 2019

On the 11th and 12th May, the Ladies’ Club Masters team headed to Swansea, starting the day with a tough match against the hosts. Thanks to an early goal, the nerves settled and Cardiff came out on top with a 2-1 win. The next 2 pool games saw Cardiff & Met draw 1-1 with Suenami and win 5-1 against Northop hall, hence topping the table at the end of day 1, to go into the top pool on Sunday.

Day 2 began with the team taking on Howardians. Cardiff took the lead and put in a confident performance against a strong Howards team. An equaliser from Howards saw the game finish in a 1-1 draw. The team finished the weekend with a 1-0 win against Penarth which meant the result of Howards vs Penarth would decide the title winners. With Howards winning 3-0 vs Penarth, Cardiff finished in 2nd place, following another unbeaten Hockey Wales Masters competition.

Ladies Masters 2019

Welsh Masters Ladies’ Home Nations Tournament – 2019

We had a number of Cardiff & Met players representing in the Welsh Ladies’ Masters Over 40s team, in Mid-June. Mel, Northern, Herbie, Suzy and Married travelled to London with the Welsh team to compete in the Home Nations tournament, and put on a strong performance in all of their games.

Wales beat Scotland 3-0 to go top of the table after the first day, which showed that not only were they the most fun team in the competition, they were also a force to be reckoned with!

Saturday saw the team play England, where they narrowly lost 2-1. Wales then played Ireland on the final day, which unfortunately ended in a 3-0 loss. As a result, Wales finished 3rd place, but despite the unlucky scores in the latter matches, a great weekend was had  by all. This performance was also a great improvement for the Welsh team from last year, where they lost to England 8-0!

The team now head on to prepare for their upcoming European championship tournament in July. They will be playing against The Netherlands and Scotland in Rotterdam—good luck to all involved!

Cardiff & Met Representatives
Hockey Wales Masters – Home Nations 2019

Cardiff look back to Eurohockey Club Trophy Title in 2019

At this point next week, Cardiff & Met HC would have travelled to Vienna, Austria, to compete in the Eurohockey Club Trophy I. The opposition of this year’s competition would have included Dinamo Elektrostal (Russia), hosts Post SV and a re-match of last years final with SC Stroitel Brest (Belarus) in Pool A.  

While we do not know what might have been, we will instead look back 12 months, when Cardiff & Met took Gold in Switzerland and eagerly anticipate our next European competition.

On the 7th June 2019, the Men’s 1s began their EuroHockey Club Trophy campaign in Wettingen, Switzerland.

The opening game of the four game tournament, consisting of three pool games and a cross-over, proved a catalyst for the remainder of the tournament. Cardiff took the lead through an Alf Dinnie deflection following some fine work from Captain, Luke Hawker. Despite being pegged back by a fine reverse-stick strike, bringing WAC of Austria level with Cardiff, Jack Pritchard converted a penalty stroke late in the first half, a goal which went on to be the eventual winner despite chances for each side throughout the second half.

Cardiff took on Ukrainian team Vinnitsa on Day 2, a match which proved to be their toughest pool game. This was no surprise to the Cardiff outfit who are familiar with the Ukrainian outfit competing against them many times in prior indoor and outdoor European competitions. A brace from Dinnie and a goal from Hawker, coupled with some fine short corner defensive work, ensured Cardiff moved to the top of the pool, with 2 wins from 2.

The final pool game proved an easier contest, culminating in a 3-0 win against Bohemians of Prague. Goals from Pritchard, Charlie Hunte & Jack Rhodes meant Cardiff secured their place in the final for the following day vs SC Striotel Brest of Belarus.

The final, initially cagey due to a waterlogged pitch resultant from torrential rain, came to life with Cardiff opening the scoring courtesy of a superb Rhodes’ strike which held firm until late in the game. The final quarter saw 6 goals scored in 12 minutes, 2 goals from Pritchard and a last minute winner from Ieuan Davies securing a third Eurohockey Club Trophy Gold for Cardiff & Met HC. Final Score 4-3.

At the award ceremony, Jack Pritchard scooped a joint prize for top goal-scorer with 4 goals (3 pc, 1 fg).

Head Coach Walid Abdo reflects on the campaign – “This, for me, is one of our greatest achievements in Europe. We came into the tournament with a young and, in comparison to prior campaigns, in-experienced squad supplemented by some seasoned pros who are comfortable in tournaments of this nature. I really felt that if we got off to a good start, confidence would grow and we would see some special contributions from the talented youngsters. I was not disappointed and I am proud of the squad’s efforts in challenging circumstances. Four games in four days is not easy. I have no doubt we will benefit from this experience in the future, increasing the depth and strength of the performance squad at Cardiff & Met HC.”  

Juniors @ Cardiff & Met HC: Its about more than Hockey

A parent of two junior members shares feedback on their experience of Junior Hockey at Cardiff & Met, providing a valuable insight into the day-to-day practice of our wonderful coaches.

As the parent of 2 children in the Cardiff & Met Hockey Academy, I would like to take the opportunity to provide some feedback on their experience. My oldest daughter, IW,  is in the Under 11s Academy, whilst her younger sister AW is in the Under 9s.

IW joined the Academy last year in the U9s. She has really loved the experience, and has continued this year with the U11s. She also attends tennis lessons at a local club, playing since she was 6. While she enjoys tennis, the way the club selects individuals to join a high performance squad and attend competitions has rather limited her interest. We have therefore been very impressed by the inclusive way that your hockey coaches have encouraged the children to take part in competitions from the moment they join. There appears to be no selection – all who wish to attend can play. IW has really benefited from this approach as she is competitive and very much enjoys feeling part of a team. Her coach is fantastic, and the children love him. I am pleased to see that he now has some help, the young lady assisting seems highly capable and very nice.

Following IW joining the Academy, her younger sister AW asked to attend. AW was 6 at the start of this academic year, yet despite her age we have been worried about her self confidence for some time. She has shown a worrying degree of lack of confidence and very low self-worth. This has affected her academic development and resulted in her receiving additional support from specialist staff at her school. AW had previously taken up tennis but did not enjoy it. She found it difficult and this did not help her self-confidence.  We were therefore concerned that she would also find hockey difficult and again quit.

Despite our concerns, AW has flourished at hockey. She has clearly grown to love the game and despite her small size, compared to some of the older children she has enthusiastically taken part in as many of the tournaments that we can attend. She scored her first goal in a tournament just after Christmas and this resulted in a massive boost in her confidence. She was extremely excited about the upcoming fixtures and has told her teacher and friends all about it. Hockey and being part of the Cardiff & Met team has given her something to be proud of that is unique to her amongst her school friends. In fact, we have seen a huge change in AW since taking up hockey which has also been noted by her teachers. She is now far more confident and shows far fewer signs of the feelings of low self esteem that we have concerns about. Her performance in school has also improved significantly.

Whilst this improvement in AW is no doubt in part due to the inclusiveness of the approach that the Academy takes, I would like to highlight the influence of her main coach. Without understatement, She has been amazing. She clearly understands, loves and respects the kids in the squad. She is always supportive, and never critical. The children clearly appreciate her approach and respond superbly to it. They are equally supportive of each other and there is a lovely atmosphere amongst the children, who are without exception a lovely bunch.

Being one of the youngest children in the group, the coach has looked after AW with particular care and attention. She understood from the start that AW was shy and rather introverted, and went out of her way to look after her. She has always praised AW and never put her under pressure to do something she wasn’t able to. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter, and she will always have a hair bobble at hand and make time to do AW’s hair for her (I am the parent that takes AW to hockey and I’m not great at pony tails). The fact that the coach took time to mention AW’s goal in her tweet also did wonders for her confidence. She really understood how important that was to AW, and I suspect she took as much pride in it as I did at the time. AW loves her coach to bits and this relationship has really helped her settle into the team. I believe her continued participation is almost entirely down to the coaches efforts.

I am confident that all coaches in the hockey academy show genuine interest and care for the children. But, given the age and mixed nature of the under 11 classes, I feel the children benefit from being taught by a woman. I believe girls at that age feel more confident with a female coach whilst the boys are able to have a strong, positive sporting female role model.

Please could you pass on thanks and best wishes to the coaching staff. We would just like to make them aware of the huge positive impact they have had on AW, and how grateful we are for this positive influence had on AW, and the care she has shown her.

Click to find out even more about Junior Hockey at Cardiff!

Join our #thirdteam in 2020

It is highly likely that most of you have seen me prancing around in a yellow shirt on a pitch somewhere – those that haven’t, I’m Abby and I’m an umpiring badger! I confess, I am one of those strange beings that actually enjoys umpiring on a weekly basis; and I’ve made it my mission to try and coax others into the #thirdteam family.

Let’s begin by celebrating the success of our very own men’s fixture secretary – fellow umpiring badger, banging wedding chef and all-round top guy Crispy Phillips–Adams. Crispy’s super hard work has paid off, in the 2018-19 season he was awarded his level 3 NPUA umpiring qualification – meaning he’s hit the dizzy heights of men’s English National League!!

Christian Phillips-Adams umpiring in the English National League

There’s a bit of a stigma attached to umpiring – it’s a lonely job, you just get abuse, its not as fun as playing – and I’m the first to agree with most of that. However, I’ve also had first hand experience of being part of a big officiating family that spans across Europe. I’ve umpired in Turkey, Portugal, France, Belgium and Slovenia – and made friends from Bulgaria, Sweden, Austria, Ukraine, Russia, Croatia…the list goes on! I’ve also had the pleasure of being mentored and assessed by some of the best umpire managers, supporting my progress and coaching me to achieve my ‘international umpire’ status. Personally, I’ve achieved far greater things through umpiring than I ever will through playing and, believe me, there’s definitely some fun to be had!!

But look, let’s be realistic – starting out as an umpire can be really scary. That’s why Cardiff & Met and Welsh Hockey Umpiring Association have a plan to mentor and develop new umpires to a level where we are able to provide the officials that our teams and oppositions deserve. You’ll be encouraged and mentored, given access to training games and opportunities to practice, and we strive to recognise potential early to get you on the right path, with the best support. I’ll even pass on a couple of little umpiring secrets that will help you out of sticky situations!

If you’re interested in becoming an umpire and having these opportunities (not to mention, it’s a nice little earner if you’re able to umpire the BUCS games), give me a shout. I usually run a club umpire course at the beginning of each season that is heavily subsidised by Cardiff & Met. All we ask is that you give a little back to the club and help out with your new found skills – pick up your whistle and discover what its like to be part of the third team on the pitch.

Abby MacOramcontact via cardiffhockeyladies@yahoo.co.uk for #thirdteam information including umpire courses.       

Abby umpiring on behalf of Hockey Wales
Abby with #thirdteam colleagues (& friends) from across Europe

Cardiff & Met Alumni Club

Calling all past members who wish to keep in touch, here is your warm welcome and invitation to join the all new Cardiff & Met Hockey Alumni Club  We would like to reinvigorate (and rebrand!) the vice-presidents of Cardiff Hockey Club alumni and friends during 2019.  Joining the Cardiff Hockey Alumni Club requires a minimum donation of £50. In return you will get:

· Your name in lights in the match day programmes and the End of Season write up

· Invitation to Cardiff Hockey Club Alumni Club events throughout the season and share stories and network with your old team mates

· An opportunity to purchase a ticket for the “Cardiff Hockey Club Alumni Club” table at the EOS dinner

· A warm and fuzzy feeling that goes with supporting something that is very close to your hearts

We see the Alumni club as a fantastic opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, watch the current progress of the Club and to play a part in the financial security of the club’s future.  Even if you do not wish to donate this year, please do get in touch, forward this email to your old team mates and come along to support Cardiff & Met HC teams.

Please contact dan.caunt@admiralgroup.co.uk to register your interest or if you have any questions.

In March 2019 a selection of the Alumni Club visit Cheltenham Races