Hockey club plans fundraising tournament to save its pitch

Hockey players who use the Watton astro pitch.

Hockey players who use the Watton astro pitch. - Credit: Tom Hassey

A Norfolk hockey club will be holding a three-day tournament in memory of a former chairman and to raise funds to 'save' its pitch for the community.

Watton Hockey Club has been involved in a fundraising campaign to get the Watton Sports and Social Club astro pitch resurfaced since 2018.

It said the playing area is now in "desperate need" of replacing and that the club will not be able to play hockey there in a year or two, as it will no longer be a playable.

Holes and patches on the Watton Hockey Club's pitch as a campaign to resurface it has been launched.

Holes and patches on the Watton Hockey Club's pitch pictured in 2018. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

It is estimated the work will cost around £300,000.

Chairman Tom Hassey said the pitch was made in the late 1990s following a lottery bid organised by the former Watton Sports Association chairman John Softley, who died in 2020.

The tournament, which will be held in memory of Mr Softley, is planned to take place over the course of the Queen's Jubilee in June next year, and more than 200 players from 25 teams will be competing - ranging from the age of 10 to over 60.

John Softley, died on October 1, aged 62. PHOTO; Matthew Usher

John Softley, died on October 1, aged 62. PHOTO; Matthew Usher - Credit: Matthew Usher

Mr Hassey said: "For years we have applied for grants and various funding streams to try and find a way to keep our pitch and community together, but with no real avail.

"We had various efforts such as 24 hr hockey-thons, hockey bingo and even tried reaching out to Ed Sheeran.

Holes and patches on the Watton Hockey Club's pitch as a campaign to resurface it has been launched.

Holes and patches on the Watton Hockey Club's pitch pictured in 2018. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

"We have four teams who play on the pitch three times a week.

Most Read

"Many of the members at the club simply would not have had the opportunity to play hockey without Watton having this key asset."

Watton Hockey Club has been involved in a fundraising campaign to get their astro pitch resurfaced.

Watton Hockey Club has been involved in a fundraising campaign to get the Watton Sports and Social Club astro pitch resurfaced. - Credit: Tom Hassey

Around 200 people use the pitch on a weekly basis, including a local walking football team, Watton Junior FC and North Elmham men's and women's football team.

Mr Hassey said: "A new surface would be amazing for our community. Post-Covid, people need clubs such as ours to interact with others, get themselves fit and get involved in local projects."

The club contacted Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman about the issue and he plans to visit the site on Friday, November 26.

A craft fayre will also be held on the Sunday of the tournament, with more than 60 stalls already signed up.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter