They are forerunners. Pioneers. Perhaps – as will become apparent later – trendsetters. At Sneek they are completely captivated by hockey5s. The club from Friesland recently organized a real 5s week. ‘A 5s membership, why wouldn’t that be possible?’

‘Our boys’ line has been scraping for years. We are happy that we can field a team in every age category. But it doesn’t last. We want to do everything we can to keep everyone on board and we see this as a very good opportunity. One in which we fully respond to the wishes of the youth.’

Jeroen Pol, technical manager of Sneek, really likes it. And yet he was only confronted with this new hockey variant for the first time a few months ago. ‘This story starts at HVA in Assen. A practice hockey 5s tournament for Girls Under-16 teams was held there in October, as part of the Hockey Fan Day. We received an invitation from HVA asking if we also wanted to send a team.’

And yes, Sneek wanted that. ‘The girls – and their parents too – came back very enthusiastic. They were really impressed. They called it a kind of super form of indoor hockey, but with hitting, flats and lifts. They especially liked the speed. After all, the ball never goes out due to the boarding.’

How did they get the boarding?

The penny dropped in Friesland. They had to do something with this. ‘We wanted more members to experience this form of hockey. We sat down with some clubs from the region because we were curious whether 5s lived this way at them too. There was also quite a bit of enthusiasm. But it turned out to be more practical to start with ourselves first. Further and bigger, that was always possible.’

Sneek then reported to the KNHB. ‘If we wanted to do something with hockey5s, we needed materials. Sticks and balls were of course not the problem. But did we know much about how to get goals that were the right size? Or the boarding, that was an even bigger question mark. The union helped us tremendously to get things going. And once we got started, we really wanted to make something of it.’

As a result, it was not an afternoon or evening of hockey5s, but a whole week. From the Under 14 youth of Sneek, nineteen teams participated in the event, which was unique in the Netherlands. ‘I think we are the first club to give 5s a stage in this way. We deliberately looked at the group that is in high school and everyone above that. That’s where our biggest outflow is. This has been going on for years among boys, but the trend is now also emerging among girls.’

WhatsApp Image 2024 02 16 at 15.31.33 - Netherlands: Sneek under the spell of hockey5s: 'This is the growth opportunity for the future' - They are forerunners. Pioneers. Perhaps – as will become apparent later – trendsetters. At Sneek they are completely captivated by hockey5s. The club from Friesland recently organized a real 5s week. 'A 5s membership, why wouldn't that be possible?'

Photo: Pieter de Haas

Not the club, but the youth decides

To keep this target group on board, Sneek emphatically asks whether young people want to think along for themselves. How can they make membership as attractive as possible? ‘As administrators, we often think we know very well what young people want. We often decide for them. And we want to change that. That’s why we organized pizza evenings during the 5s week to talk to the youth members.’

‘They are mainly concerned about freedom. To be able to have a part-time job on Saturdays, while they also enjoy playing matches. Bring a music box and have fun. Questions were raised. What is possible on other days? Can we limit travel time and number of training sessions? And is a form like hockey5s a way to involve smaller groups of friends who do not currently play hockey, just like in indoor football?’

As far as Pol is concerned, it is not a must to set up a competition model. ‘Just do it the way those kids like it. They love the game. This way we can keep them at the club in an accessible way. A 5s membership? Why wouldn’t that be possible? We see this as the growth opportunity for the future.’

Moreover, Pol expects that 5s offers an opportunity to bring in new members. ‘I’m repeating myself a bit. But it’s just a really fun game. We also had a number of children from AZCs as guests here during our 5s week. They had never held a stick before, but they had a lot of fun. One held the stick the wrong way around, the other shot a lot. But none of that mattered. This is also possible with 5s – you can adjust the rules based on the skills of the target group. Square football, but at the hockey club.’ 

by Hockey.nl

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