Monday 5 March 2018

Supporting from the field: Manchester Men’s Hockey Club

Student Minds is the chosen charity for Manchester University Men’s Hockey Club. Here, John explores why they chose Student Minds, and what hockey is like beyond the sport itself.

- John

It’s easy to assume that most university sports clubs fulfil the stereotype: a big group of lads who don’t necessarily have the capacity for sincerity, sensibility, or a conversation on the subject of anything other than ‘beer and banter’. As one of the largest clubs at Manchester University, everyone in the Men’s Hockey Club is aware that this is how we are viewed by many who don’t know us. However, the reality is actually very different.

The friends that I have in the hockey club are genuinely among the most considerate and friendly people you could possibly come across. The club has always been keen to emphasise that it is inclusive to everyone, and the experience always trumps the hearsay. I’ll always remember my very own Freshers’ Welcome Day -  every current member of the club took genuine interest and the time to ask who I was, what I was studying, and have a chat. Especially considering that I hadn’t played hockey for two years, this had the potential to be an intimidating environment, being watched by established members of the club. However, I managed not to embarrass myself, and instead I met people who I am friends with today. 

It never fails to amaze me, seeing how a sport can bring people together. We have so many members from a variety of different backgrounds, but we all have hockey in common – which at the end of the day is all that matters. This unifying factor creates a tight-knit community; the hockey boys are some of the most loyal guys I know.

This is why we decided to support Student Minds, and why it is such an important cause for us. For me, hockey is an outlet from the stresses of university life. I am a third year Architecture student, and the grade I achieve will ultimately affect the direction of my career. On top of my own personal life, that’s a lot of pressure. When I’m on that pitch, though, my only worry is the scoreline, the man I have to mark, or the pass I’m looking to play. Many will tell you that Wednesdays are sacred, and we mean it. It’s one day of the week where nothing else matters. 

Supporting Student Minds reflects what our club is to us. Hockey helps us, and we want to make sure that others have the same kind of support. 1 in 4 students suffers from a mental health issue, and while hockey is a fantastic community and support system, the pressures to perform well on the pitch can affect people, myself included. Mental wellbeing interacts with physical wellbeing, and this is a cause that is genuinely close to our hearts. 

This year, we have baked, raffled, even grown moustaches to raise money for Student Minds, and we’ve also been encouraging other clubs to take up the cause too. We’ve also just booked a charity club night, are planning a bingo evening, organising a campus league tournament, and are running the Manchester 10k in aid of Student Minds. Any of my team mates will tell you that with my asthma, I rarely last 10 minutes on the field, so 10k is a real challenge!

When you think of a university sports club now, hopefully you will see us as a group of lads who care about each other and are ready to welcome anyone into their world. Don’t get me wrong, we still have our weird traditions, and sing our songs louder than the rugby lot, but we also really care that everyone has the best possible time at university. We are proud to support Student Minds, and show that it’s ok to have problems, its ok to talk, and that even ‘the hockey lads’ have some heart.

Hi, I’m John. I’m an architecture student at Manchester and the charity secretary for the Men’s Hockey Club. I personally have suffered with mental health issues, and as a club, we are motivated to change attitudes towards it and to support Student Minds in the work that they do.

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