ABC has a strong representation in both boys and girls youth hockey. This is a programme organised by North Harbour Hockey for Years 7-10s and forms part of our Player Pathway for those who want to go on to play adult hockey: equally importantly it also caters for those looking to play more socially in a supportive environment run by our top ABC coaches with an experienced Adult field player to provide on-field support.
We actively seek opportunities for our youth to progress through the club which is evidenced by the very high number of players who have 'graduated' from the youth programme across our Prem teams and well over 50 overall in the club. We believe that the average age of our top teams is younger than any other club in Auckland and North Harbour and reflects our commitment to developing players.
Each year after the winter season and leading up to Christmas, North Harbour Hockey association runs a youth grade competition for both boys and girls on Monday nights. It has been hugely successful and has grown from 12 teams in 2008 to around 40 teams last year.
It isn’t an elite competition and is instead focused on connecting school hockey players with clubs, allowing them to get a taste for what club hockey is about, and form connections with the wider hockey community so when they leave school or want to further develop their hockey they know what options are available. It is for students in Year 7 through Year 10.
The ABC programme is usually made up of two muster days, meeting on weekends at the end of school term 3, followed by eight to ten Monday night games over term four, with around four optional weekend practices during the programme. The weekend practices are focused on basic skills and understanding the fundamental structures of senior hockey.
We have been engaged in the youth grade for more than 10 years now and the success of this programme has been a key factor in the increasing strength and player numbers across all our club squads.
While we have had excellent on-field results over the years the real measure of success is seen in our winter teams. In the 2019 winter season, it was fantastic to see more than 40 men’s players spread across all grades from Division 2 right through to Prem 1 that had previously been involved in youth grade.
Ultimately, we want a strong club tomorrow, so we make sure we put the effort into developing our young hockey players today.