A MAJOR sponsorship worth an annual five figure sum for three years has been announced by internet service provider Wi-Manx to support the Manx Hockey Association’s ambitious plans to offer greater opportunities for the sport on the Island.
“It is the most significant one-off sponsorship Wi-Manx has made,” said managing director Edward Whipp. “Over what will be a three-year period we see it benefiting a particularly wide section of the community because of the diverse age range of the MHA’s membership.”
He added, “Hockey is an increasingly popular sport with families on the Island as it involves children, their parents and grandparents and this is a factor which particularly impressed us when making the decision.
“It is a safe sport which is very much at the heart of the Island’s communities and Wi-Manx is both delighted and excited to be involved in its future development.” From the start of the 2010-11 season Wi–Manx will support all MHA activities - from junior coaching to Island squads, leagues and cup competition (including indoor).
The sponsorship is almost certainly unique as it will benefit all element of the sport, including coaches and umpires. MHA chairman James Shimmin said, “This is a first for Manx Hockey so we are absolutely thrilled to have reached this agreement with Wi–Manx to support our development plans for hockey as a ‘key sport’ on the Island.
“It is an exciting opportunity to progress our family friendly sport and sits very neatly with Wi–Manx’s own core principles.”
He added: “This sponsorship will enable us to match our ambitions with finances and be able to take the sport on the Island to the next level. This will be achieved through increased ability to expand our ‘grass roots’ coaching, including bringing coaches over from the UK, greater opportunities for advancement of our youth through junior and single system initiatives and to allow the Island squads to increase their competitive activity.”
The Association’s commercial director Graham Crowe added, “It is brilliant for us to add this new income stream to supplement the contributions made by the affiliated clubs and our partner IOM Sport. I think our new catchphrase “Wi-Manx Hockey? .. simply the perfect match!” sums up exactly how the hockey community are looking forward to this link-up with such a well respected, Island-based company.”
The announcement of the sponsorship coincides with the visit to the Island today (Friday) of two England and Great Britain International players, Chloe Rogers and Suzie Gilbert. They will attend the MHA’s annual gala dinner at the Hilton Hotel tonight and conduct a coaching session with some MHA juniors and Island ladies tomorrow (Saturday).
The end of year gala dinner will also see the launch of the new Wi-Manx sponsored Island kit for players, umpires and officials which has been organised in conjunction with Charlie Turner at Intersport.
The MHA traces its roots back to the 1920’s and now boasts a membership in excess of 750 whose ages range from eight to 65. The Association is made up of seven clubs, with 29 mixed teams, 17 men’s and 16 ladies teams as competing from September to May, along with a thriving junior league structure.
Great Britain hockey internationals Chloe Rogers and Suzie Gilbert with Edward Whipp of Wi-Manx and James Shimmin of the Manx Hockey Association (photo: Bill Dale)