It’s been another, roller-coaster season, for Beeston Hockey, but it’s been one that has, yet again, seen them qualify for the play-offs.
Among their ranks is the experienced, central midfield athlete, the 24-year-old, Paige Gillott, someone who continues to strive to achieve, in every capacity, but it could have been so, very different for her, if she’d stayed the path of a sport, quite different.
That sport, show-jumping, that was left to her sister, Holly Smith, whilst Paige’s path continued to flourish, in the world of women’s hockey, where there’s a seemingly more even split, between the two sexes, than most other sports, although show jumping does still hold a place in her heart.
“Yes, there’s a relatively even split in hockey, between male and female athletes,” began Paige.
“But, when you’re a kid, growing up, you want to play all those games that your friends play, and really, it was just netball, cricket, and football.
“Personally though, I actually come from a horse-related background, so I was juggling show jumping, and hockey, from childhood really.
“I was show jumping until I was 18-years-old, at national level, and, to be honest, I’ll never say never about my going back.
“My sister, Holly Smith, she’s a show-jumper, and she’s really good (2020 Summer Olympian, 2018 European bronze medallist); her motivation, dedication, it helps to keep me interested, and she’s a big influence on me.
“Show jumping, it’s unique, in that males and females can be seen to compete against each other, whereas in other sports, there’s the obvious, genetic differences between the two sexes, strength, stamina, skill levels, so that shows there does need to be a wider push for those (sports).”
Hockey though, that’s something that has stayed with her, especially more than sister Holly; whilst Holly is off show-jumping in varying events around the world, Paige, having spent time in the national set-up, is content to be a vital part of the Beeston Hockey cog.
“I was picked to play for both England U21’s, and for Beeston, when I was 17-years-old, and I just stayed there,” continued Paige.
“With the national set-up, I played up to the U23s, but it becomes a whole, different game, at a higher level. In men’s hockey, it’s similar to that of men’s football, in that they’re a faster athlete.
“During my time here (Beeston), promotion to the Premier League, that was huge, a massive achievement for the club.
“We’ve done alright since then, sticking around mid-table initially, but, the last few seasons has seen us finish fifth, so now, we need to look at challenging for the top four, and be seen to be consistently, pushing on.
“Experience (of players) though is important because we can compete, technically, and we know how to both win, and lose, games.
“It’s the taking of the opportunities which is the difference between ourselves, and those above us in the table.”
A fifth place finish this season has seen Beeston enter the play-offs where they’ll look to make that leap from there, and into finals weekend.
Before the seasons’ finale however, the Bees need to overcome games against Surbiton, East Grinstead, and University of Birmingham, in Pool A, (Pool B is made up of Wimbledon, Hampstead, Clifton Robinsons, and University of Nottingham) – for the record, Est Grinstead narrowly edged the first match (11 March), 3-2.
Meanwhile, promoting the sport, that of women’s hockey, is one which Paige, a Paralegal at Knights PLC, is key to the future of the sport, highlighting the differences between semi-professional and professional.
“There’s certainly been criticisms, but, on the whole, pretty good,” added Paige.
“At club level, it’s down to those, individual clubs, in regards promoting the game, and that’s where I feel changes need to be made.
“There needs to be a migration from semi-professional, to professional, and, an overall, concerted effort, from the governing bodies, down, to increase the promotion of the sport, and the excitement in which the product brings.”
Keep u-to-date with all the goings-on at Beeston Hockey Club via their socials on Facebook and Twitter and via their website www.beestonhockeyclub.com.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @OfficialBeeHC Paige Gillott in action for Beeston Hockey Club.