YOUNGSTERS from Ashgrove School in Penarth have been among the first in the Vale to get to grips with a brand new approach to playing hockey.

Earlier this year, Hockey Wales launched their new ‘4689’ blueprint for encouraging junior players to take up the sport by being exposed to fun small-sided games, starting with four-a-side, then building up to six, eight and nine (4689). The aim is to make the sport captivating, fun, and easier to pick up.

Coaches and sports leaders from across the Vale are being given training on how to deliver this new approach by Judith Powell from Hockey Wales.

Judith said: “There are so many different ways to play hockey, and 4689 is one of them. It is hoped that by breaking down the game and removing the barriers of the formal 11-a-side version, hockey can appeal to more young people.

"We want to make hockey fun and easy to play anywhere, so that you can enjoy having a simple small-sided game in a school hall or playground.”

Judith added: “My role is to introduce coaches, teachers and sports leaders to some new ideas, techniques and training games so that they can build on the great work that they are already doing.”

Among the schools that Judith has visited so far is Ashgrove, where she helped pupil Joe Blackley lead a hockey session for younger children, all of whom have disabilities.

Judith was joined by Vale Council Disability Sport Wales Development Officer Simon Jones, who said: “Sport is an integral part of life at Ashgrove and Joe is part of a group of older pupils at the school who have become involved in sports coaching.

"The pupils have all enjoyed learning about hockey and picking up some coaching tips, and will be adding hockey to the range of sports played in the school.”