My 12 year old son Oakley broke down sobbing Wednesday evening because he is missing ice hockey and training so much. He misses his friends, he misses the drills, he misses coming off the ice after a heavy session sweating and steaming and feeling exhausted. He misses burning off excess energy and he doesn't know how to channel that anymore. There is nothing else like ice hockey. Ice is flowing though his veins. He doesn't understand why AEW Uk don't just give the rink back to the Isle of Wight Council so they can do something with Ryde Arena. They could laminate floor it, he tells me, so we can at least play roller hockey. That wouldn't cost much to run, he adds.
A child's mind is so simple yet he's completely right.
These huge corporations who own our local facilities and amenities don't turn up and watch the figure skaters train. They don't show their faces at ice hockey matches. They don't know of the pain and frustration our children are feeling or the effects it is having on the home and school life because they have closed our hub, our sports centre.
I don't know how to help him— he's an ice hockey player through and through. Gosport is out of reach because we can't get there in time after school plus it costs a fortune. We have thought about reinstating roller hockey as there is already an adult recreational team that get together once a week. However, we're not sure if they will have a hall to use in the future as Ryde Academy’s current hall is being demolished over the summer as a new one is being built. It's still not clear if they will allow roller blades in case their wheels and sticks mark the floors. The Isle of Wight Junior Ice Hockey Club (IWJIHC) has already been barred from Sandown Academy as the kids sticks marked the floor during off ice training. Honestly it's just one thing after another!
Ryde Arena was a hub for so many people from all walks of life. It's inexcusable to take fun, exercise and development away from children. Oakley’s high school are concerned about his behaviour as it's deteriorating as he is becoming disruptive to others. He's not an academic child, but he will succeed in life. He is a really good ice hockey player, a team player and gives it his all. He’s angry, and quite naturally so. It’s unfair. He doesn't understand why. Others have so quickly taken his dreams away.
Something has to be done and quickly. If the IWJIHC have to fold because they can't compete in the league anymore, it will literally take years to set up a new club in the future. Ice hockey coaches have to be EIHA trained and have recent ice hockey experience, team managers need to be EIHA trained. All staff need to be DBS checked. This costs money. Without a committee it’s difficult to arrange fixtures, travel, manage fundraising and purse strings. This costs time and money and volunteers. If IWJIHC loses its club structure this year it really will be over for ice sports on the island. We cannot allow this to happen!
Oakley was training at the rink twice a week keeping fit; meeting his mates on a Friday night at the disco sessions to socialise and make friends in a safe environment, learning to become independent away from his parents; watching his hero team the Wightlink Raiders playing ice hockey on a Saturday night, something he was going to become; and playing in the Junior league against mainland teams either at home or away on a Sunday.
There isn't anything for our children to do in the largest populated town on the Isle of Wight. The statistics tell us we are an area of deprivation so change it please IOW Council. For years there has not only been no investment in young people's provision, but there has been cuts to youth services, cuts in the funding to sports – and we wonder why antisocial behaviour and childhood obesity is at its highest rate? No youth clubs, just kids out on the street causing trouble with belligerent behaviour, angry because the things they did love and care about have been taken away. As parents we try and educate them to become wholesome adults, but when things like this happen, we can’t explain why.
SOMETHING MUST BE DONE