Sheffield Steelers' new University deals designed to take them to the top of the EIHL class

Sheffield Steelers have done such a good deal with the city's two Universities that they now have more places available than they have players to fill them.
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Months ago, club owner Tony Smith told The Star that Steelers needed to improve their relationship with both centres of learning in the city.

They had witnessed how Belfast Giants had successfully attraced top players for a year's ice hockey with an educational package on top.

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That has borne fruit this week when the club revealed they had signed first line centreman Patrick Watling, who will be studying for an MBA at Hallam.

Patrick Watling pic courtesy of Sheffield Steelers Patrick Watling pic courtesy of Sheffield Steelers
Patrick Watling pic courtesy of Sheffield Steelers

Smith says they landed him chiefly because of the new deal they have with Hallam.

"We worked hard in the Summer to do what Belfast has done to get these places available, and we don't actually need all the places Hallam offered this year.

"We have got two places at Sheffield and four with Hallam, so we were very pleased with that."

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Another University place awaits another potential top-line import forward, who is considering his options on whether to accept or not.

Tony SmithTony Smith
Tony Smith

Smith says the deal can be very attractive to hockey players with an eye on their future careers.

"If you can play a bit of hockey and come away with an MBA or a MSc after 12 months that is a job well done.

"I am told Patrick is one of our biggest signings this Summer, he seems to be the type of goalscorer we need."

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Sheffield coach Aaron Fox said Hallam's "assistance and support in the whole process has been outstanding.

"I think they are as excited to have Patrick joining them as a student as we are as a player.”

Professor Conor Moss, Dean of Sheffield Business School, commented: "We’re delighted to be starting this partnership with the Steelers and becoming an education provider.

“Playing professional sport and studying for a Postgraduate degree is a huge personal and professional commitment. Our outstanding staff at Sheffield Business School have significant expertise in supporting professionals from all backgrounds to succeed."

Smith said he hoped the new partnership would be a "long lasting venture."