Sally Munday: What I'd have told Radio 5 Live phone-in listeners about hockey... had I been put on air!
Wednesday, 02 May 2012
Opinion was divided about 50-50 but there was a lot of moaning that every area except the capital risked being left out. That set me off. I was desperate to get through. I tried phoning a dozen times, hitting the redial button every few seconds like a teenager voting on Britain's Got Talent, but it was constantly engaged.
The reason I was desperate is because they're wrong, those people who think that the Games is London-centric. I want to tell the whole country that our sport is creating a genuine legacy from London 2012.
I cannot speak for the other sports but hockey is activating the biggest engagement programme across Great Britain in its history with the aim of raising its profile and inspiring more people, of any age, to take up the sport. We have been planning this legacy for the last five years and have already connected with thousands of people of every age through our player visits to schools and the NPower Big Dribble initiative alone.
By the time we reach September the Have-a-Go activities we are offering during Gamestime will have reached over a quarter of a million people.
We will have thousands of new participants too. Our plan has been to create great new ways to play the game, and a fantastic number of hockey clubs and other providers will be offering new and traditional ways to play. All this alongside the best promotion of our sport with hockey on TV, radio, in newspapers and online every day for two whole weeks from 8.30am till 10.30pm. It's the best shop window for a hugely entertaining sport we have ever known and we have been determined to be ready.
In February and March this year our international players visited 250 schools across Great Britain and had face-to-face contact with 5,000 young people – inspiring the next generation. The response we had from schoolteachers, parents and, importantly, the youngsters was fantastic.
We are also midway through the NPower Big Dribble – taking a giant hockey ball to 40 cities across the country from Edinburgh to Wrexham, Plymouth, Norwich, Leamington Spa, Manchester and Glasgow – inside 18 days.
We're taking our Hockey Roadshow to areas of high footfall where we can give people the opportunity to have a go, meet international hockey players and be part of our collective effort to try and dribble a record 2012 kilometres to raise money for the WellChild charity, which exists to help sick children and their families. We have already had thousands of people taking part – including a bride in her wedding dress! – and we are turning this interest into people then attending local sessions on a regular basis.
We are investing huge amounts of money and time in letting the nation see for themselves how much fun hockey can be.
During Games time we have a whole range of initiatives to get people involved:
The 5-week frenzy: For five weeks we have our clubs and other hockey providers all over the country putting on Have-A-Go and coaching sessions for adults and young people so we can capture that immediate interest in the sport and make people realise how much fun and how easy it is to play our sport. You don't have to have ever played before; you can just turn up and join in and we will make sure everyone has a really entertaining time trying our great game.
New versions of the game: Not everyone wants to join a club so we have developed new versions like Rush Hockey, a five-a-side, just-turn-up-and-play version for adults; Back to Hockey, aimed at women aged 30 to 55 who haven't played since school and fancy getting back into it without having to join a club; and Quicksticks, for primary school aged kids and In2Hockey for secondary school age kids.
Hockey houses: For people who want to watch the sport rather than play, and are not going to London, we have formed a partnership with the brewery company, Mitchells & Butlers, which owns All Bar One and O'Neill's; we are turning a load of their pubs into "Hockey Houses" during the Games all decked out with GB bunting and life-size cardboard cut-outs of our players so that people can have the hockey Olympic experience close to home.
Wear RED campaign: Some 630,000 people will have hockey tickets for the games – and we want everyone supporting GB to wear red. The idea is to let our hockey players look into the stands and see a wall of red to know that our country is right behind their quest to make the podium at the one and only home Olympics of their lifetime.
FRE Flyers: We're 100 per cent behind a joint initiative with the Tennis Foundation to establish a multi-sports club for children in the East End of London, thanks to the brilliant work our GB men's team has done in becoming coaches, and 'big brothers', to an enthusiastic and determined group of young people from Newham and Tower Hamlets.
That's what I'd have said on Radio 5 Live, if I'd got through that day. Although I see the problem. I'd probably need my own show to say it all...
Find out more about the Hockey Nation programme and the forthcoming Investec London Cup featuring GB, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, South Africa and Ireland at www.greatbritainhockey.co.uk.
Sally Munday is the chief executive of Great Britain and England Hockey. She has worked in the sport since 1998 and, following various senior management roles, was appointed to the top job in 2009. Munday, who has also served with the Lawn Tennis Association, is a former team manager of Great Britain and England.