With season two of the Netminder Development Programme ready to open for applications from aspiring netminders, we wanted to take a moment to profile Jack Atkin, one of many success stories from season one of the programme.
When asked to reflect upon the programme, Jack said “It is such an amazing opportunity for kids to try something different.”
Hockey is for everyone, no matter how old or young you are, how big or small you are, hockey is for you.
WHAT IS THE NETMINDER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME?
Starting to play as a goalie can be difficult, the Netminder Development Programme can help to enable aspiring goalies to trial playing in that position before investing in their own equipment.
The programme will supply up to five netminder kits (at one time) free of charge to players across England and
Wales, providing opportunities to those who may not have had the chance to play in this position.
With a shortage of netminders at all levels across England and Wales, this fantastic pilot programme aims to reduce financial barriers, increase participation and experience in this position, and ultimately give young people exposure to ice hockey to help develop our sport.
BECOMING A NETMINDER
Jack, number 18 for the Bradford Bulldogs under 12s, soon to be under 14s took the step towards being a goalie earlier this year in season one of the Netminder Development Programme.
He started playing hockey in 2020 with “rollerblades, stick and a puck with the hope of going to lessons on the ice.”
After a few step backs, including a hand injury, Jack finally got to play his first game in Manchester in November 2021 and he “loved it” and enjoyed the “thrill of it all”.
Jack decided that he wanted to keep playing hockey but instead of playing defence he wanted to play in goal. “It seemed like a crazy idea but I really wanted to try it.
“I wanted to play in goal because it looked like a lot of fun.”
The young goalie reflected on his first time in full goalie equipment: “When I played in net for the first time it was so hard and different, but once I got my loan kit I felt comfortable and loved it. I had some fun in those pads.
“It wasn’t hard to switch but it wasn’t easy getting used to holding the stick in one hand and learning the different techniques.”
When asked about his favourite moment playing as a goalie, Jack brought up the first time he made a save against Billingham. “Everyone went wild” and he got player of the game.
To get all of his kit, he had to apply to the goalie program.
Lucy, Jack’s mum, explained their experience with the Netminder Development Programme.
“Jack actually found out about the programme online. He had mentioned playing in goal a few times, previously he had playing in goal in football. We thought it was just a bit of a dream but he kept asking to try it. We were concerned as his team already had an amazing goalie plus the expense of the kit if it wasn’t for him. The program came at the perfect time.
“It was really easy to access. We filled in the paperwork and within a week we were collecting the kit. It is such an amazing opportunity for kids to try something different.”
Since becoming a goalie, Jack has achieved a lot. His team, Bradford Bulldogs won the U12s league then he went on to play in the nationals. Unfortunately they didn’t make the finals, but he played well against some good teams and got a lot of experience.
His team also spent a week in Hull competing in the Kingston Tournament where they won the tournament in a nerve wracking semi-finals and final.
Lucy would recommend this program to anyone who wants to try being a goalie: “We wouldn’t have been able to give him this opportunity to give it a really good go without it and he is going from strength to strength and gaining some excellent skills”
JOIN SEASON TWO OF THE NETMINDER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
Season two of the Netminder Development Programme opens to applications on September 21st, 2022.
Those interested can follow this link to begin an application: Netminder Kit Application (jotform.com)
Successful applicants will be contacted once their club has agreed to the loan.
Round 1 applicationsare open from 21st September to 4th October 2022. Successful applications will receive kit on loan from 12th October 2022 to 11th January 2023.
Round 2 applications are open from 2nd January to 16th January 2023. Successful applications will receive kit on loan from 25th January to 26th of April 2023.