Bees Belong: when community met international Hockey in Beeston, Nottingham

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Community organisation Belong Nottingham and Beeston Hockey Club, the biggest hockey club in the Midlands have formed a partnership  to promote Hockey to Belong’s young people, who mainly come from ethnic minority and migrant backgrounds. 

Belong is a social enterprise founded by migrants from Africa to support integration, and recently Belong’s families supported by Belong youth worker Verna Prince provided international food when Beeston hosted the Malaysia men’s hockey team for a friendly match. 

Kerlin Carrasco, a Belong youth project member interviewed people during the event. First up was Helen Davis, of Active Notts who encourages people to get active by doing more sports and exercise. 

The interview 

Kerlin Carrasco: what do you think about bees belong partnership?

HD: “I think Bees – Belong partnership is a really important thing for us to try and do and for lots of people to try and play hockey who would not normally try and the partnership will help.” 

KC: is there something we can change about Bees Belong?

HD: “It’s too early to say, … what I hope is that we get lots of young people from Hyson Green loving hockey and start them wanting to play.”

KC: do you think lots of families will enjoy coming here?

HD: “Yes, but you can also play where you are, it’s a long way. You can play in Hyson Green.“

KC: do you think what we’re doing with the food is good

HD: “it’s really important to understand different cultures and different food.” 

Beeston Hockey Club and Belong Nottingham partnership is ‘worthwhile’

Kelvin also spoke to others, including spectators, and four of the Beeston senior players, Robbie Gleeson, Sam Apoola, Henry Croft, and first team captain and member of Bees-Belong Gareth Griffiths. 

They all agreed the initiative was worthwhile and should be continued and improved, for example with events not just on first team days. The food was good, “really tasty, really good job, really popular”. 

They all wanted to see more families coming along to watch and play; “it’s an amazing programme for everyone at Beeston, really worthwhile, [to] get everyone involved and into our fantastic hockey club”, said Gleeson, adding “I think we got to get as many people from as many different backgrounds to build our little hockey family, it’s a really good club with loads of fantastic people who are welcoming and want to meet new people”. 

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Apoola said “it’s really good, exciting, it’s going to make people feel included and bring more kids and more people to play hockey”, adding that he wanted to bring more people to the club on Mondays and to take hockey to the inner city as well, as he has seen done in Central London; “Getting kids playing sport is brilliant”. 

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Croft added that it was “unbelievable getting you guys to games and playing”, and encouraged people to also enjoy the sociable after game and family atmosphere. 

For Griffiths, “it’s brilliant, fantastic to see young people playing hockey. It was great to see people trying”. He added, “it’s going pretty well and Belong and Beeston … can learn and keep working together.” 

Verna Prince commented “Bees – Belong is a programme which aims to foster relationships between young people from Hyson Green, Radford and Forest Fields with Beeston Hockey. We are helping young people who are socially isolated and have been disproportionately affected by the inequalities that have been exacerbated as result of Covid-19 to feel integrated into British society and build their confidence in physical literacy. The initiative is supported by Active Notts and Sport England.

The game was won by Malaysia. 

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