Back in 2014 Dalefield Hockey Club had a big problem to solve. Players who had come up through the club were leaving to go to Victoria University and naturally joining Wellington teams. The club needed them back.
Mike van Woerkem is one of an amazing group of volunteers at Dalefield who keep the club running and he and his son put together a plan to bring back the local lads who had flown the coop.
At the beginning of 2015, every single one of the boys who had gone to Wellington had committed to play for Dalefield – and that year they won the Wellington P1 Competition and they’ve been in the finals ever since.
It’s a great story of hard work and determination by energetic, committed locals to keep their club humming.
“It was all about getting some structure around it all, setting expectations, scheduling regular trainings and seeking local sponsorship. It sounds like basic stuff, but we didn’t have it back then,” says Mike van Woerkom.
“The club’s over a hundred years old and we’d kind of relied on good old casual country club stuff before, so we grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and gave it structure and purpose.”
Mike says the focus is not on winning the competition, although it’s been a great bonus, but more about developing their players and giving them a clear pathway. Several of the players have made the National Hockey League and four are currently in the Under-21 Wellington team. He’s the first to say sponsors have been a big part of the success.
“Our local sponsors have been amazing and WBS is right up there. We put a lot of time into our proposal, so it was clear we weren’t just asking for money but wanted a close relationship where all parties benefitted.”
“We really rate WBS. They’re locals helping locals, putting money back into local initiatives – doesn’t get much better,” says Mike.