Wesley International Hockey Patrons to launch new funding model at pitch opening

The Wesley International Hockey Patrons scheme will be formally launched at the official opening the Ballinteer school’s new pitch on Wednesday, February 26 (7pm).

The idea behind the Wesley International Hockey Patrons is to provide practical support to the schools underage Irish players whose programme is completely self-financing.

This year, a dozen students from the school have received Irish call-ups, many of whom are currently lining out this week in Lilleshall in England for the Under-18 and 16 boys and girls teams as part of their 2020 programme.

Wesley’s youth international players with their school hockey coaches

These programmes are all “self-financed” with no funding currently allocated to these groups by Hockey Ireland. This situation has been in place since 2010 with costs per player now pitched this year at being between €3,000 and €5,000.

This means a series of different, short-term fundraising drives have been setup around the island to generate support for the squads with the Under-18s playing in the European Championships in Kazan, Russia while the Under-16s will contest a Six Nations in Belgium.

The Patrons project aims to put in place a longer-term, more sustainable model for support that can be passed on from one group to the next.

Announcing the new initiative, the organisers state: “Wesley College has a rich and proud tradition of pupils who have represented Ireland in hockey at junior and senior levels.

“In fact, over the last 20 years, the school can boast 18 past pupils have become members of either the Irish senior men or women’s teams. Mitch Darling, Kyle Good and Kirk Shimmins (all Rio Olympics 2016), Nikki Symmons, Stella Davis, Anna May Whelan and more recently Daragh Walsh and Luke Madeley are names that easily come to mind of past pupils who have represented Ireland on the international stage.

“They honed their skills on the playing fields of Wesley College under the keen and watchful eyes of generations of committed, dedicated teachers and coaches. Hockey Ireland annually runs an excellent Junior Age Group training programme.

“In order to help in a practical way, we in Wesley have set up a fund, The Wesley International Hockey Patrons, to aid with the expenses of current pupils who are representing our school at an international level. This Fund puts in place a structure by which we can help future Wesley underage players for decades to come.”

Olympian Kirk Shimmins will play in a challenge match at the Wesley pitch opening. Pic: Adrian Boehm

The Fund is asking past pupils, both as individuals or through the companies where they work, to back the players financially.

“We are seeking annual PATRONS at: GOLD level €2000, SILVER level €1000 or BRONZE Level €500 to commit for a three-year period.

“Please contact us to find out more information about the benefits “and how we will acknowledge your help) of becoming a PATRON and supporting our players. Email winthockp@gmail.com or make a contribution directly: 

Bank details : WESLEY COLLEGE HOCKEY IBAN IE 08 AIBK 9333 8452 8656 88 BIC AIBKIE2D 

OR simply log on to our gofundme page as follows: 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/j7daq6-wesley-international-hockey-supporters

The opening itself gets underway at 7pm with an exhibition game with the opening ceremony taking place at 8.15pm.

The exhibition game will take the format of two halves featuring three unique teams:

  • team one will be the school’s current Irish squad representatives of boys and girls at Under-16 and 18 level
  • a select team of Irish international players who are past pupils
  • a YMCA team who are based at Wesley College.

Confirmed on the past pupils international team are Iain Walker, Mitch Darling, Stephen Brownlow, Michael Maguire, Chris Pelow, Harry McMahon, Mark English, Peter McConnell, Sarah Robinson, Sam Hyland, Jenny Osborne, Rachel Scott, Kirk Shimmins, Ben O’Grady, Robert McCollum, Garry Ringwood and Matthew Walker with a few more potentially confirmed in the next few days.

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