As easy as ABC

A Walthamstow mum on how the local hockey club transformed her life
By Irena Souroup

Credit: Touch Tight Media
Credit: Touch Tight Media

Fourteen years ago, I was sitting on my sofa in Walthamstow, attempting to feed my newborn baby and feeling exhausted. My body was far from recovered after the birth and I found it hard to contemplate a walk to the fridge, let alone anything else.

Glancing out of the window, I saw some fresh-faced people heading to the sports centre opposite my house, carrying hockey sticks. I was intrigued as it had been my favourite sport at school but thought to myself that my sporting days were probably over before sinking further into the sofa.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. A full decade and two more children later, I found myself playing hockey again, laughing with my team, celebrating goals and feeling the wind in my hair. I owed my transformation to a tiny advert for the Waltham Forest Hockey Club Adult Beginners Course, which was the catalyst I needed to pick up a stick again. Since it was open to anyone, I thought it would be a gentle way to get back into playing and, in 2018, nervously joined a group of other newbies for the four-session course.

It didn’t take long before I was hooked. Our coach, Philippa Leguen De Lacroix, nurtured our hidden talents and the mood boost from the exercise was incredible. In the first hockey season on the ladies’ fourth team I was delighted to receive “Most Improved Player”. Even though my son brought me down a peg by telling me that it was “an award for newbs”, it still has pride of place on our mantelpiece.

I have been playing in Waltham Forest Hockey Club ever since and can firmly say it has transformed my life. I’ve never met a friendlier, more inclusive bunch of people and there are teams for all abilities, ages and both sexes, as well as for players with disabilities.

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

Coach Philippa told me: “We initially started [the ABC course] because we kept getting women saying they would like to come and play hockey but that they hadn’t played in years. They would always say ‘I’m not fit enough’ or ‘I won’t be any good’ – they felt overwhelmed.

“The idea was to give women the confidence to come and play. You can be a terrible player, you just have to be enjoying it and improving.”

While inspiring women into sport was the initial goal, the course has always been open to men too. Michael Wiseman, who took the course last year after moving from Canada, found it a great alternative to the ice hockey he played back home.

He said: “I decided to give it a try to stay in shape, meet some people from my local community and get some quiet time lost in sport.

“Everyone was very welcoming and patient as I learned the rules. I would definitely recommend the sport, even if I still can’t get used to using only one side of my stick!”

The Waltham Forest Hockey Club Adult Beginners Course takes place from 8-9.15pm on 30th June, 7th July, 14th July and 21st July. New players are also welcome at the club at any time.

For more information email [email protected] or visit their website

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