Aaron Davies gets rolling with the Phoenix Roadshow!

Friday, 6th May 2005
The Manchester Phoenix Schools Roadshow has been back in action over the past few weeks, with Phoenix's Junior Development Officer Aaron Davies taking the show on a whistle-stop tour of schools throughout the Manchester region.  Richard Allan caught up with Aaron to find out what the Roadshow is all about, what Aaron gets up to, and what he think about the future of the game at junior level in Manchester.
Richard Allan:
Following the success of previous tours, the Manchester Phoenix School Roadshow has started up again - how many schools have you visited on this tour?
Aaron Davies:
There's been eleven schools so far but I wish there were more! I've really enjoyed it and the kids have been absolutely great - they're on my level so I feel right at home!  It's so much easier to do these Roadshow events when the kids have been really bubbly, because that's where I get my energy from - it really helps me find my confidence in front of the kids when they're up for it too.  When the kids are responsive and want to have some fun, the whole job is a pleasure, and that's exactly how it's been on this  Roadshow tour.  I've had a brilliant time and I want to carry on presenting more of them!
What happens at the Roadshow events?  What activities are involved?
We start with the opening video that was used to start the games last season. Something fast paced and action packed to grab their attention!
This is followed with an overview of ice hockey, its rules and origins, and we then move on to dressing one of the kids in the full hockey kit. We usually pick one lucky little victim and get them to try it all on so the kids can see all the equipment and understand where it goes and what it looks like! The kids really love getting all the gear on and having a go.
We then follow on with a presentation format that has been tailored to meet the specifics of the National Curriculum with reference to healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle.  Surprisingly the kids are really into that sort of thing, they want to learn about how to eat properly and getting big and strong. 
Then we get the hockey equipment out, and that's the high-point for the kids, definitely. They get to have a go with the stick and puck; they try out some of the stick-handling skills and have a go at firing the puck. Not only do they learn some basic hockey skills but they also understand the importance of warming up and cooling down – also uses up all that excess energy!!!
Since the start of the year, Manchester Phoenix has been asking for junior players to register their interest in trying out for the new Junior Development system.  What is your role within the system?
I'm the Junior Development Officer for Phoenix, so my role at the moment is to try to get as many kids interested in the sport as possible.  My involvement stems from my coaching background - I'm currently coaching the Flintshire Hurricanes, which is the Under 14s team at the Deeside rink. It's a really fulfilling experience, seeing these kids come into the sport and seeing them develop a keen interest in it, and that's something I hope to replicate with the Phoenix.  The more kids we can get into the sport, the better it is not only for the kids but for the sport too.
Has there been a lot of interest in the Phoenix scheme?
Yeah the response has been very good, especially through the roller hockey side.  A lot of junior roller hockey players are keen to try their hand at ice hockey, but with Altrincham being closed down there's nowhere in Manchester for them to try it.  A new rink will allow the kids to try their hand at ice hockey - there's a lot of demand from the roller side to try on ice but that depends on getting a rink.  Roller hockey can be played in a lot more places than ice hockey, and the demand is definitely there. We're
also attracting applications from junior ice hockey players who have had to travel outside the Manchester area to find ice time too, and a new rink would be a real plus for them as well.


How important do you feel it is to get hockey going at grass roots level?
I think it's the most important thing.  That's where most players get started - when they were kids, enrolled in a junior development system. That's where I started, so did Jason Hewitt, and Mark Thomas too.  I remember talking to Mark Bultje about it last year and he told me he came up the same way, through a local junior development system.  Without that kind of start, I don't know how few hockey players there would be, not just here in Britain but all over the world!  In terms of grass roots level in
Manchester, it's vital.  Ice hockey and junior development is a way we can keep the kids off the street, away from drugs, away from booze and trouble, and get them closer to the best team sport in the world!
Aaron Davies, thank you very much!
You're welcome!

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