Swindon Wildcats Academy have had plenty to celebrate recently after being presented with the Chairman Award.
The honour is bestowed upon one club from the South and one club from the North.
Decided by the JLMC Officials Referee Section and a panel of coaches, the award is based on a number of areas including development, sportsmanship, attitude, professionalism, organisation, success and team-work.
The Wildcats Academy won the award after impressing in all of the above categories, in addition to successfully rolling out a number of forward thinking initiatives.
Speaking about the decision to hand the honour to the Swindon Wildcats Academy, Chairman’s Award representative Jacqueline Pye said:
“Swindon is a club that works together as a team to not only achieve for the club but for all clubs, assisting and giving support and advice.
“They have an excellent In-House League structure, in addition to having developed a number of forward thinking initiatives.
“They also had two teams at the National Finals and they teach respect and discipline throughout their organisation.
“All in all, they are the largest growing club in the country and they provide sport for all.”
Plenty of hard work goes into the running of the Academy – the largest in Britain – and Wildcats Academy Head Coach Ken Forshee was delighted to see the efforts of so many people rewarded.
“It is a great achievement. Our In-House League has come a long way and there is a tremendous amount of hard work that goes into it, not only preparing for every season, but during every season as well,” he said.
“There is a lot to keep up with but it is worth the hard work because the kids are playing with equal competition and we’re not going to other rinks and winning by 20 goals or losing by 30 goals – the competition is fair and even.
“The kids absolutely love it and it was unbelievable how much enthusiasm they showed throughout the In-House League season.
“It is a big team effort. Hockey is a team sport and off the ice it is a team sport as well in that you’ve got everybody doing a different job and, at the end, it all comes together.
“It is a lot of hard work and it is a lot of commitment from the parents as well to get their children here as much as they can and make it to all the games, whether it’s their league games or their In-House League games.
“We’re very lucky here in that we’ve got around 200 kids playing and all 200 of them are so committed.
“It is a tremendous amount of work and there are so many people doing things, whether it’s the General Manager of the club or the Team Managers or whoever – it is a huge team effort.
“Luckily, the big thing we’ve got going here is that everyone is pulling on the same oar in the boat and everybody has got the same results in mind.
“It is all going very well at the minute and hopefully we can make it even better next year.”
Concluding, Swindon Wildcats Academy General Manager, Lee Mason said: “One of the key things about this Academy is that we are looking at individual player pathways.
“The In-House Leagues play a big part in that and so do our league teams.
“We’ve recently done all of our player testing and we’ve probably got the best player testing anywhere in the country, so we can now feed that back to the players and the coaches can have that information.
“The coaches can then give feedback to the players and that will obviously help them develop and we can target specific things.
“The key thing is all of our managers and our coaches are all committed to the same thing.
“Yes, they want their son or their daughter to do well, but they want the whole group to do well.
“The In-House League has been running for two-years now and when we announced our league teams this year, 23% of the league team players started in the In-House Leagues.
“All of the In-House players are striving to get into the league teams and all of the league team players are striving to get better and better, so hopefully it can only move forward.
“This award is like a reinforcement of what we are doing. We know what we are doing is right and what we are doing is inclusive and very progressive, but to get recognised by the EIHA in this way is a nice little boost because everybody puts a lot of work in.
“It’s a nice pat on the back and we can show it to all of our volunteers and thank them as well.”