Seaford College’s new Head of Hockey, Claire Greenway, brings a wealth of experience to the role. Miss Greenway, who has worked at Seaford for six years, has been a part of the England hockey set up, as well as coaching the likes of Wessex Leopards, Sussex, Brighton University and Worthing Hockey Club. She has also played hockey at county and national league level.
Tell us a little about your background.
I’ve done a lot of coaching at universities and throughout the England hockey set-up. I do a lot of camps with Exsportise. I used to do a job away from sport, putting people with learning support needs into employment. That has definitely helped me to understand different people.
How has your working life changed since you became Head of Hockey?
My role has definitely become a lot bigger. Because we’ve been quite successful recently, we’re taking on extra fixtures and extra tournaments, which is great.
Are there any new developments that you’ve instigated since being appointed?
Every child from Year 2 upwards is given the same support as any other pupil. They’re all taught the same things. There isn’t just a focus on the 1st team or the individual, there’s a focus on how we can develop as a team.
We’ve tried to introduce the same formation, the same pressing, the same tactics throughout the whole school. The philosophy is the same. It makes it easier for everyone – for example, if you’re pushing someone up from the 2nd team to the 1st team, it makes the transition a bit easier
How are the Seaford teams doing this season?
We’re doing really well throughout the age groups. The U13s were runners-up in the County Cup and are going onto the regionals. The U14s reached the semi-finals in the County Cup. The U16 team finished top in their pool in the regionals. We’d never won a game before at the regionals, so to top the pool was a really big deal. They went on to beat King Edward VI Southampton 5-1 in the quarter finals and lost narrowly at the south pool finals to a last-minute goal against Cranleigh after putting in a great performance.
The U19s were recently in a 6s tournament at St George’s and came runners-up in their pool. It’s an invite-only event with a lot of big schools competing in it and we’ve never made it out of the groups before, so that was a new best. We reached the semi-finals in the end. And our 1st team have gone the entire season unbeaten.
We also have 15 county players – boys and girls – this season, whereas before we’ve only had one or two. Our U15s have five boys in the county squad. That’s 25% of the team and all of them – Josh Brown, Jonny Pardey, Matt Burroughs, Isaac Thorneley, and Isaac Mitchinson – have been at Seaford since at least Year 7.
In the past we’ve just had a reputation for bringing in German players, but now we’re developing more of our own players, many of whom we’ve brought through from a young age. This is probably the best year we’ve had overall from Year 8 upwards in terms of overall talent, we’re excelling throughout the year groups and not just in our A teams, but in the B teams as well, which is just as important
Mr Barnes plays a huge part, as does Miss Teague on the girls’ side, and then we have various people who take on teams.
What do you most love about hockey?
What I most love is when I see someone who’s never played before and then see an improvement in their game, see their skills click and everything we’ve worked hard on in training come together – there’s a buzz and an excitement when it’s working well
Our teams at Seaford are really resilient, they work really hard as a team. It’s this passion about working together that’s seen us beat a lot of much bigger schools.