Tower Hamlets Hockey Club wins National Championships
The new National champions hope their victory will bring increased exposure and greater accessibility to hockey in Tower Hamlets
Tower Hamlets Hockey Club’s first team, aka the Tigers, has won the England T4 National Championships and will be promoted to division three next season.
Matched against Devonport Services’ first team from Plymouth, the nail-biting final on Sunday 30 April saw our local team delight the crowd of home-turf supporters, winning a 3-2 victory in penalty shootouts (sometimes known as penalty shuffles).
Three years ago, the Tower Hamlets Tigers were in the same position and fell just short of the championship. This year, they were determined to lift the trophy on their training pitches in Lee Valley Hockey Centre, just north of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
First-team member Abdul Wahid and club chairman Shuhel Malique set up Tower Hamlets Hockey Club in 2016.
Wahid, who played beside his eldest son to win the championship on Sunday, said that he was ‘really proud of all the players and couldn’t express enough gratitude to the crowds of supporters who came out on the day.’
‘Penalty shuffles are a difficult way to lose but the game has to be decided and it was an amazing win for us!’ said Wahid.
As well as the first team, Tower Hamlets Hockey includes a second team made up largely of junior players from local schools that also won their league in their debut season, becoming champions of East Division 7.
As children, many senior members of the first team played together and won the 1994 England School championships for Homerton House, now called City Academy in Hackney.
Still playing side-by-side nearly three decades later, they are aiming to get more local young people into hockey, which has become associated with public schools and isn’t played in many inner-city schools across Tower Hamlets.
Tower Hamlets Hockey Club currently runs developmental sessions for boys and girls, and hopes to set up a women’s team next season, but after seven years it is still struggling to find training spaces in the borough.
‘Pitch space in Tower Hamlets is dominated by Wapping and East London hockey clubs but most of their players don’t live in the area,’ said Wahid.
‘The facilities in Lee Valley are really good but if we want to attract more local youngsters it’s really important that we can find a space to train closer to home because accessibility is still one of the biggest barriers for many of our players,’ he added.
As well as expanding the club, Tower Hamlets Hockey is looking forward to the first team’s division three debut in September, representing our borough in games across the country. For now, though, they’re still enjoying the taste of Sunday’s victory.
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