Volunteering at award-winning Old Silhillians.

At the heart of a hockey club

As a Local Leader and Chairman of Old Silhillians Hockey Club, Stephen Tabb knows how essential volunteers are for clubs who dream big.  

Old Silhillians is a dynamic hockey club in Solihull that gained international recognition after becoming the first British club to be named Club of the Year by the European Hockey Federation in 2015. 

Its Chairman Stephen Tabb has been involved in the sport for a long time. From volunteering at the London 2012 Games as a pitch manager to leading the development of the main hockey club in Warwickshire, Stephen understands the importance of recruiting volunteers.

An inclusive state of mind

Joining the network of Local Leaders was a natural step to help him get more people on board, and he quickly took full advantage.We have a club profile on the Join In website, and they regularly retweet and favourite our requests for more helpers,” he said. “We have no doubt that integrating with Join In will benefit the club in the longer term”.

You do not have to have any hockey background at all to get involved.

Stephen also tapped into the potential of his community and recruited Tom Moffitt, a local primary school teacher and a qualified first aider. “There is a Facebook page called the West Midlands London 2012 Volunteering Legacy, which is run by the Local Leaders,” he said. “I posted on the page enquiring whether anyone would be interested in a more regular involvement with a local club. Tom contacted me and was keen to help out.”

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Stephen Tabb speaks to one of the club’s younger volunteers.

Although Tom knew very little about hockey, he had much to offer. “Tom was willing to try, and has been invaluable to us,” Stephen said. “It would be great to have others with the same enthusiasm. One of the things we always struggle with is convincing volunteers, but they can get involved even without any knowledge of hockey.” 

Tom now helps coach every Sunday and regularly looks after the junior teams on match days.

Impressive growth

The club was rewarded after years spent developing its infrastructure and providing opportunities for young coaches. Stephen said, “In 2009, we had around 25 junior members. Last year, the club had 220 members. It would have been impossible to achieve this growth without volunteers, who enable good quality sessions.”

Any clubs that want to grow need to find volunteers in the long run.

Volunteers help the club’s practice sessions run smoothly. Their work builds the club’s reputation and increases participation numbers.

However, Stephen noted that local clubs sometimes struggle with volunteer management. “They’re busy keeping their club going and they don’t have the time to deal with volunteers. But in the end, any clubs that want to grow need to find volunteers in the long run.”

International recognition

Thankfully, the “Sils” have a strong focus on community engagement. They provide coaches for local schools and created the “Solihull Flyerz Inclusive”, a programme designed with several community groups to help disabled people play hockey.

Recognition for these initiatives swiftly followed. “We just won the European Federation Club of the Year,” Stephen said. “A lot of that is due to the impressive growth of membership in the club and to the efforts put in to offer a diverse range of classes such as the Solihull Flyerz.”

The club seems unstoppable. They’re looking to develop further, with volunteer recruitment central to their ambitions.

“We’re hoping for significant growth and we’re looking to increase our general activity,” Stephen said. “Therefore, we’re always looking for additional support.”

– If you have decent admin or marketing skills, why not give Old Silhillians a hand?

– Want to volunteer at a hockey club in your area? Sign up today!

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