Loreto were named the European Hockey Federation Large Club of the Year for their Hockey Mums project while Ballymoney earned the Small Club of the Year prize for increasing opportunities for Under-11 and 13 boys in playing the game.
For Loreto, the idea was to offer coaching for Mums, some who had never played hockey before and others who had not played since school, all who were keen to play and learn more about the game.
This began with 40 parents and has grown to now having over 85 parents taking part. There were three levels: beginners, intermediate and advanced.
Parents were taught hockey rules, skills and fitness. After the eight weeks, the parents were split into mixed teams and a blitz style tournament and barbecue was held.
This final event proved extremely popular in the community with children, dads, teachers and local parish workers in attendance with over 300 people attending this year.
Wendy Byrne, President of Loreto HC said of the EHF award: “Loreto Hockey Club is delighted, honoured and very proud to be awarded the EHF Club of the Year award for large clubs.
“The award allowed us to highlight our club’s strong voluntary contributions, its inclusive nature and its warm welcoming atmosphere.
“Receiving this award caps off a great year for us, having just installed our first ever water-based pitch making our pitch and clubhouse a top-class facility. Thank you to all our members who create wonderful memories season after season. We couldn’t be happier.”
For Ballymoney, the club worked across several primary schools to activate a better gender balance for their junior sections. Volunteers from the club have been on leadership and coaching courses to be able to give the boys the most positive start in their hockey careers.
They have had help from local schools and clubs, and families and friends of their ladies’ sections and received sponsorships from Star Fuels and Bob and Bert’s coffee shop as well as running fundraisers, including a mini and junior fun day, bag packing, table and fireside quizzes and bag packing.
Laura Walters, Funding Officer from Ballymoney said on hearing that Ballymoney HC had been awarded the accolade of Small Club of the Year 2019.
“We at Ballymoney Hockey club are absolutely delighted to have been named the European (small) club of the year 2019. Over the past few years, we have attempted to restructure and redevelop our club.
“It has taken a lot of hard work, organisation and dedication and this award is a testament to that. We are the first club in Ulster to have been awarded such a prestigious title and we hope we can go on to promote and develop our club further.”