Rockets taking flight

by Stephen Findlater
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THREE Rock Rovers will host Ireland’s first ParaHockey games on Saturday afternoon as their Rockets welcome the Monkstown Strikers and the Railway Union Railblazers to Grange Road.
It comes 11 months after the formation of the Rockets, a hockey team for children and young adults with intellectual disabilities. The three teams will play a six-a-side blitz on Saturday from 1.30pm before taking in the men’s EY Hockey League game between Three Rock Rovers and Glenanne at 3pm.
“ParaHockey started in Three Rock last November and has been growing in Ireland ever since then, spreading now to Monkstown and Railway Union,” Three Rock’s Siobhan Madeley, one of the groups key co-ordinators, said of the new initiative.
“For the last year, the Rockets have been training each week but there has been no club matches possible until now so we decided that our men’s first team’s first home game of the season was the perfect time to get this going.”
“We are thrilled to get to this point; it was great to get it started, providing hockey on an inclusive basis for all people of all abilities and it has been a lot of fun!”
Madeley had seen the power of ParaHockey across the continent in her role, working for the European Hockey Federation. The continental organisation has run their European Championships in conjunction with ParaHockey events since 2011 with Madeley helping Three Rock to use the learnings and best practice to set up the team.
The Rockets travelled to the Euros in Amsterdam as Ireland’s representative in August in their first formal games and they are now looking forward to more regular outings.
Monkstown started their strikers group in the spring with a six-week trial which was successful enough to be formally introduced on a weekly basis for the last five weeks at the Rathdown school base. Sandymount club Railway Union also started in the last six weeks.
“It is great that it is three of the established clubs who have taken on parahockey and it looks like more will follow with Lisnagarvey in Ulster looking to field a team in the near future.”
A feature for each club is the support from key club members. The Rockets are coached by Rovers first team and Irish underage international coach with the first team players regularly providing sessions and meet and greets. At Monkstown, Irish international midfielder Stephen Cole is one of the key coaches.
It has also been a galvanising movement for a new group of volunteers in the clubs.
“We are now getting a lot of Gaisce Award students helping out as part of their community service element, doing something fun and giving back to their local community. Wesley College has been very supportive and is excited to have their students involved. The challenge is now for other clubs and we are looking forward to start ParaHockey growing further.”

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