THE new season for Dunfermline Carnegie Hockey Club's men has started and they have headed into it with a sponsorship boost.

Edinburgh Asset Finance will support both the men's and junior sections of the club this year, which will enable them to implement coaching initiatives on strength and conditioning sessions, and provide a new, full set of strips for the men's first and second teams, as well as the juniors.

The firm, which is a specialist, short-term lender that offers loans secured against luxury assets throughout the UK, was founded by its managing director, Neil Mitchinson, a former Dunfermline Carnegie player who has returned to the club.

He began playing hockey at the club as an 11-year-old, from where he progressed through their ranks to become one of their major players in the men's first XI until he left to attend university.

Neil is one of three family members to have represented the club on the field.

His brother, Ross, also played for Dunfermline Carnegie until he left for university, before settling down south, while the siblings' father, Jim, was a stalwart for a number of years until injuries forced his retiral.

During his time, Jim was not only enthusiastic about the playing side but was a keen supporter of the club and was one of its major sponsors for many years.

Neil has now taken on that mantle, and commented: "I always had it in my mind to come back to Carnegie as it has always felt like my home club. Now felt like the right time to return.

"Being able to support the club with some sponsorship, which will hopefully allow them to build on their recent achievements, is a real privilege."

The sponsorship deal will also fund, alongside the club's regular junior coaching, a junior coach/manager for the upcoming season to organise teams within that section of the club and maximise their game time in leagues and tournaments.

The men's first team, who last season played in the Scottish Hockey Men's Premiership for the first time in their history, began their new season on Saturday, with a 6-2 win over Erskine Stewart's Melville.

Dunfermline Carnegie's ladies' firsts will also benefit from new backing.

The Soccer Shop Direct and Babcock International, both of whom are based in Rosyth, will allow the team to purchase new strips, as well balls and fitness and safety equipment.

In the build-up to their new season, Dunfermline Carnegie were the winners of the Edinburgh Ladies' League of Summer Slam Hockey, six-a-side leagues for mixed, men's, ladies', under-14 and under-16 teams run in partnership with Scottish Hockey, while the club was also represented at the Masters World Cup, held in Nottingham, last month.

Cameron Scott and Neil Robertson were selected by Scottish Hockey for the M35 squad, who placed seventh, while Matt Jones, Magnus Ferrier, Steven Glass and Martin Daw were picked for the M40 group, who finished 12th.