Gold galore as downpour washes out London Youth Games at Hackney Marshes

Close call as Team City's goalie blocks attack [photos: Eddie Whiston]

Close call as Team City's goalie blocks attack [photos: Eddie Whiston] - Credit: London Youth Games

Nine teams representing schools across London had to share the spoils after torrential rain forced a premature end to this year’s London Youth Games football competition at Hackney Marshes as pitches became waterlogged.

Team Hackney on the attack

Team Hackney on the attack - Credit: London Youth Games

Teams from Hackney, City of London and Kingston had all won through to the semi-finals before yesterday afternoon’s downpour and were joined by Wandsworth to share first place in both boys and girls contests for secondary school-age competitors with learning disability.

Tower Hamlets got to the semi-finals in the girls’ event with Ealing and Bromley, but were then joined by two more teams from Wandsworth and Hammersmith & Fulham who were in the middle of their quarter-final match when the Heavens opened.

All nine semi-final and quarter-final teams were awarded first place, following an official pitch inspection after the thunder and lightning subsided which had declared the pitches waterlogged.

Competition directors, medics, referees and team managers agreed conditions underfoot were too dangerous to re-start play.

Hundreds of young people representing 27 London boroughs enjoyed a day’s football before the cloudburst soaked east London’s spiritual home of grass roots football on the banks of the River Lea.

But team managers were united that the storm hadn’t dampened the youngsters’ spirits.

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“The last memory of the day was legging it under cover with the pitches left unplayable,” Tower Hamlets girls’ team manager Ollie Moss said. “But even finishing hastily didn’t spoil what had been a great day.”

Team Tower Hamlets, made up of girls from St Pauls Way, Central Foundation Girls and George Green’s schools, were more than happy to be awarded Gold medals.

Hackney boys’ team boss Jill Danskin said: “Our youngsters don’t get the chance to play in leagues like the mainstream children, so it’s a good opportunity to experience that.”

Almost 127,000 youngsters took part in the record-breaking London Youth Games last year, taking the event to over a-million since they began in 1977. This year’s Games look like breaking all records—if the rains hold off.