We’re not just any recruitment company. We see ourselves as part of the communities that we work in, and we are always looking for ways to support our communities. We have previously talked about the fact that we place a real focus on employees’ personal development and well-being. And the successes of our people both at work and in their personal lives are important to us. So, when the opportunity to combine both arose, we stepped up! We’re sponsoring Mark Norton, Head of Onsite Services, and the Welsh Hockey Union team at the upcoming World Masters Hockey 2022 World Cup in South Africa.
The tournament starts on 1 October and will see 11 teams from all over the world battle it out. Here we caught up with Mark to find out more about his passion for hockey and the support that RE Recruitment has given him to be able to represent his country on the world stage.
Here we quiz Mark on his love of hockey and the significance of this event.
Stroud was the first club where my hockey pastime began almost 33 years ago. A schoolteacher introduced hockey to the school shortly after the success of the GB side at the Olympics in 1988. He also played at Stroud Hockey Club, and after spotting my talent for the sport, he suggested I join them. I played for Stroud for most of my hockey life, but I’ve recently had to make a tough decision to change clubs. Living in Gloucester (and having a son to run around to various sports clubs) made it difficult to travel and get to games on time. So, this season I have joined Gloucester City Hockey Club – which is closer to home.
Like most players of my age, I’ve played at most positions on the pitch, including Goalkeeper. In my earlier seasons, playing Goalkeeper, I represented Wales U21s (although didn’t get capped that time) – and Gloucestershire County at Senior Level. More recently, I have transitioned to playing on the pitch, which I enjoy more. I believe that the experience of playing in goal has helped me better understand tactics and positional awareness.
One Friday evening just before Covid appeared in 2020, and after a glass of wine (perhaps it was more than one), I decided to log my interest in trialling for the Wales Masters 045s. It was always my aim to play Hockey for as long as I could. Club hockey is very inclusive, and over the years, I have played alongside great players of all ages. I thought that for my age, I was a reasonable player and could hold my own with some of the younger players! So, with the confidence found in wine, I emailed the key contacts with my interest.
I was contacted with information about the process and asked if I would be interested in playing in the World Cup in South Africa. There were several challenges gathering the squad together. Many players are teachers, and the tournament is scheduled in term time. As well as this, there is the cost. International tournaments in this age category are completely self-funded. So, we must pay for our travel, accommodation and kit. This was a challenge for me, and I had lots of long conversations about how I could afford it. But there was no way I could miss this opportunity. I had the backing of my wife and family, who understood my passion and the size of the opportunity.
Two World Cup cancellations later (due to Covid), in February 2022 – the squad selection process was restarted. I attended trials, this time at the Home Nations tournament playing against England, Scotland and Ireland. I played some of my best hockey, and I got selected! Next up is the World Cup, which has once again been arranged in South Africa, and I’m now able to use my paid flight vouchers (from the 2020 cancelled event) for their intended purpose!
At school, I was one of the boys that were in the last few to be selected for various sports. This spurred me on to prove to myself that I could achieve success in sports. When we started playing hockey at school, we were all beginners (due to its new arrival in school PE). I took the chance and tried out for the school team. This sense of determination helped with my confidence. This has definitely helped me progress professionally and specifically working in the challenging recruitment sector.
Working in an environment like recruitment, I value an opportunity to “let off steam”. I find hockey provides the platform for me to do this. Playing a game or training at the weekend helps me return to work on a Monday with a clear head. My family will agree I’m a better person when I have exercised!
RE Recruitment has been behind my journey all the way. Following the selection process in 2020, they have been encouraging and supportive. Working for a company that provides a great employee value proposition has helped me achieve selection. We close our offices early on Friday, and this gives me a little “me” time. It has allowed me to grab some extra gym sessions and improve my fitness which boosted my chances of selection.
When an opportunity became available to sponsor the team, I presented the idea to the Senior team at RE Recruitment. They were quick to agree to sponsor both the squad and me as we work towards the World Cup and beyond. RE Recruitment has committed to be the Wales O45’s Men’s team shirt sponsor for the next three years. This provides vital funding for us that will support the costs for tournament entries in the future, including the Home Nations Championships, the European Championships, and the next World Cup.
Their support financially means a lot to the team and me personally. Their commitment to me as an employee to develop not just professionally but in a sport that I am passionate about really does set them apart as an employer. They can see the benefits of having employees that are happy both in and out of work.