A Hull accountant coached the England ladies’ masters hockey team to a resounding victory at the Masters World Cup in Barcelona this summer.
Gareth Ikin, 25, a trainee accountant at Smailes Goldie Group, which has offices in Hull and Barton, masterminded the team’s tactics and strategy, helping it to dominate a tournament that featured a number of Olympic medallists.
In fact, the team was so successful that over the course of the tournament, the team of players aged 35 and over, scored 25 goals, conceded just one and won six out of seven games, drawing the seventh.
“This was an incredible success,” said Gareth, reflecting on the team’s triumph having returned to his desk at Smailes Goldie Group’s Princess Street offices. “The standard of competition was very high, with the added challenge of playing under the intense Mediterranean sunshine. The players said it was so hot that it was like running through treacle.”
He said that a significant factor in the team’s success was the fitness plan that he prepared in the run-up to the tournament.
“The success of this approach was really illustrated in the opening game against the USA, which we won 4-0. While our opponents were really suffering in the blistering temperatures, our entire team was still fresh and had energy in their legs at halftime,” added Gareth.
Gareth attributes the emphasis he places on meticulous preparation to the rigorous professional accountancy training he has been undertaking with Smailes Goldie Group.
Another insight from his accountancy training that Gareth says has assisted him in his England coaching role has been the importance of constantly reviewing performance to see how things could work better.
“When we are providing strategic business advice to a client, we always have the question of how we can add value at the forefront of our minds – irrespective of the current performance of the business. Even in the best performing businesses, processes can be refined or adapted to better suit changing circumstances.
“I have taken this insight to the hockey field too, and this is evident in the number of goals we scored.
“In our 10-0 win over Sri Lanka, our second match, we scored six goals in the first two quarters but then failed to score in the third quarter. We responded by revisiting our approach and adapting to the Sri Lankans’ tactics, leading to a further four goals coming in quick succession in the fourth quarter,” said Gareth.
The summer was such a success that Gareth joked that the only people who were dissatisfied with his approach were the team’s goalkeepers, who had relatively little to do.
Gareth, in contrast, had plenty to do over the summer, with an unrelenting schedule of professional exams to contend with, in addition to his international hockey commitments.
“There really has been a lot to do this summer, pursuing success on the hockey field and professionally as I work to progress my career in accountancy.
“On the two days prior to jetting off to Barcelona with the squad, I took two accountancy exams – which I passed. It has been a juggling act at times, but it has been hugely rewarding.”
Mark Sharpley, a Partner at Smailes Goldie Group, added: “The parallels between accountancy and the world of sport might not be obvious, but there is a strong relationship.
“Both require strong analytical skills, the ability to dispassionately reflect on performance, strategic awareness, an understanding of people and a hunger for success.
“Gareth has these qualities in bags, so it is no surprise that he has achieved success both professionally here at Smailes Goldie Group, but also in his hockey coaching career with the England Ladies Masters.
“All of us here are delighted for him.”
Smailes Goldie Group is no stranger to hockey success. The firm sponsors the Hull Pirates in the ice-based variant of the game, for whom Smailes Goldie accountant, Jamie Chilcott, is the team captain.