Children from Timaru South School and Oceanview Heights School take to the turf. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Pupils from two low-decile Timaru schools have been helped to have a go at hockey.

Early last month, 60 pupils from Timaru South School and Oceanview School headed to Aorangi Park to play hockey.

The Hockey South Canterbury Have a Go programme aims to provide opportunities for less advantaged tamariki and rangatahi.

With the help of pupils from Timaru Boys’ High School and Timaru Girls’ High School to run the sessions and funding from Tu Manawa Active Aotearoa, Hockey South Canterbury is able to remove barriers preventing participation, allowing children to give hockey a go.

Hockey South Canterbury had seen children try hockey through Sport Canterbury holiday programmes and Have a Go opportunities but from there they had been unable to continue with the sport.

Challenges that needed to be overcome included transport, equipment (stick, shin pads, mouth guards, etc) and turf costs.

The organisation partnered with the two schools that were interested, but did not have school teams, and the Tu Manawa Active Aotearoa fund helped formalise the connection.

Hockey South Canterbury board member Susan Coker described the day as a “fantastic opportunity to be able to offer hockey to these schools and continue to do so throughout the hockey season”.

Parent helpers said it was great to see children thriving in the new environment, having fun and being excited to give hockey a go.

Timaru South School deputy principal Amy Dunbar said the school was grateful for the support from Hockey South Canterbury and funding from Tu Manawa Active Aotearoa for the programme.

All children involved were provided hockey gear including a stick, bag, mouth guard and shin pads, and transport barriers were removed.

“It’s all about tamariki being able to give hockey a go, without being too focused on the rules or the costs associated with doing so, Ms Dunbar said.

Hockey South Canterbury will continue to run the programme for the entire 2021 season.