by Matt Lovell
The tenth annual Waltham Forest Mini Hockey Tournament held last month was the largest to date, with over 330 children and 41 teams from primary schools across the borough competing to be borough champions.
The tournament was held at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre near Leyton, where England’s ladies won the European Championships last August. It is one of the largest mini-hockey competitions of its kind in London. Several players from Waltham Forest Hockey Club took a day’s holiday to help run the event and coach.
After an initial group stage and two knockout rounds in the round-robin tournament, reaching the semi-finals were Leytonstone’s Gwyn Jones, newcomers Riverley from Leyton, fellow debutants Thorpe Hall from Walthamstow, and Leyton’s Barclay Primary School.
In the first semi-final, Gwyn Jones took the lead thanks to a lovely through ball from Denis Kibodi Ngoumawhich as Ruby Huish ran behind the defence to slot home. Further goals from Ruby and Sammy Redley saw them triumph over Riverley 3-1. In the second semi-final, it was end-to-end stuff as Barclay and Thorpe Hall traded blows in a 3-3 draw. The match went to penalties, and finished 1-0 to Thorpe Hall.
In the final, Gwyn Jones dominated from start to finish. A brace from Ruby and a goal from Sammy Redley put them 3-0 up. Great defensive work by Armani Campbell Halima Shafique meant that Thorpe Hall struggled to create chances. Gwyn Jones eventually triumphed 8-2 to win the trophy, while the bronze medal match finished 3-2 to Barclay.
Gwyn Jones now go on to represent Waltham Forest at Crystal Palace in March, and after scoring 45 goals and conceding just five during the tournament, will hope to go one better than Handsworth two years ago and lift gold at the London School Games.
Waltham Forest Hockey Club is looking to run a primary schools training day so that the teachers at these schools are empowered to run hockey training throughout the year, after huge amounts of interest from children who took part in the competition.
For details on Waltham Forest Hockey Club’s junior section and training times: