2020 was always going to be a vastly different one for the North Harbour Hockey Community. They shifted from their beloved facility on Paul Mathews Drive into the new National Hockey Centre which boasts New Zealand’s only facility with five hockey turfs on one site. Coupled that with the COVID 19 pandemic and North Harbour Hockey have had their hands full for the first six months of 2020.
Finally, after the long wait, Senior Community Hockey got underway this past weekend, and the feeling on site was one of celebration as most of the teams gathered in the impressive facility after the game to connect and share incredible stories about what has been going on.
In 2014 North Harbour Hockey had 4,343 players in their community the proceeding five years has seen dramatic growth in the Association. In 2019 they had a whopping 5,290 players and despite the delay in the hockey season and many of their community is in a very different financial situation the playing numbers at North Harbour are likely to be very similar in 2020.
The Association has sunk a significant amount of its resources into the development space in recent years. The investment in the development space has reaped some fantastic rewards for the North Harbour Community rep teams including in 2019 when their National Hockey League Teams would bring home both the K Cup and Challenge Shield as the winners of the Women’s and Men’s competitions. Despite there being no rep tournaments in 2020 the Association sees this as an opportunity to provide further development opportunities which will mean that the participants in their U13, 15 and 18 spaces will still have the chances to improve their skills and provide them with quality opportunities.
North Harbour CEO Riki Burgess commented on the return of Community Hockey in the Association “It’s really exciting to see people back on the turf. The smiles on people’s faces are what we do it for, and people are loving being back out there. Hockey is such a massive part of people’s lives, and seeing the amazing stories that were coming out during the COVID lockdown was inspiring”.
North Harbour is approaching the return to play as a phased approach, and by the start of term three, all their teams will be back on the pitch and representing their clubs and schools.