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Maidstone Hockey Club hope to have new synthetic pitch ready for the start of next season


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Maidstone Hockey Club hope to have their new synthetic pitch ready for the start of next season.

The club, based in South Park, need to replace their sand-dressed surface - originally laid in 2007 - and have been given a £78,082 grant by the FCC Communities Foundation towards the total project cost of £185,000.

Youngsters using Maidstone Hockey Club's synthetic pitch, which is set to be replaced this summer ahead of the 2022/23 season
Youngsters using Maidstone Hockey Club's synthetic pitch, which is set to be replaced this summer ahead of the 2022/23 season

Work is expected to start in July and should take between six to eight weeks, with the new pitch predicted to last 10 to 12 years.

“It’s good news, it takes the pressure off financially,” said club chairman Nigel Swaffer, who says club finance manager Roger Daniels has been heavily involved in the project.

“We were committed to replacing the carpet this season because it has outlived its life, really.

“The grant takes the pressure off and allows us to move forward without too many worries.”

The all-weather pitch is used extensively, not only by the hockey club, but also by several football clubs and the wider community. At peak times, the pitch is used by up to 1,000 participants every week.

Swaffer said: “The locals have the ability to use it as they would do if it was a grass pitch.

“If you go during the week, there will be something happening on it - be it football or hockey, or some variation of both of them. This week, with it being half-term, there’s probably lots of youngsters kicking a football around on it.”

Maidstone has around 250 members, with plenty of the club’s young players using the pitch on a regular basis.

“On a Sunday, we usually have around 100 juniors from under-8s to under-18s on it,” Swaffer explained.

“That’s boys and girls, with a fairly even split between them.

“Then when they reach the age of 13, a lot of the youngsters can play hockey in adult leagues. That (the juniors coming along) tends to encourage a lot of parents to get involved in hockey as well.

“Our men’s 4ths, in particular, really is made up of dads and lads. Half the team usually is youngsters from 13 to 16 but, on one occasion, I think we had seven dads involved.

“So it’s a good family facility. It’s bringing youngsters off the streets and parents are getting involved in hockey, as well as helping around the club.

“It has benefits in all sorts of ways.”

FCC Communities Foundation spokesman Richard Smith added: “We’re delighted to be supporting the replacement hockey pitch at Maidstone Hockey Club and pleased our funding will benefit so many people and sports clubs in the area.

“FCC Communities Foundation is always happy to consider grant applications for projects that improve local communities and we’re looking forward to this one making a difference soon.”

Maidstone has five adult men’s teams and four ladies’ sides.

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