Chairman hails Wapping progress

Wapping's Stuart Burnside at the launch of the club's very own beer

Wapping's Stuart Burnside at the launch of the club's very own beer - Credit: Archant

Hockey club has experienced huge growth in recent years

Wapping's women huddle up before play (pic Iain McAuslan)

Wapping's women huddle up before play (pic Iain McAuslan) - Credit: Archant

Hockey has long been a sport that goes unnoticed, yet east London can now boast two of the most successful clubs in the capital.

Wapping Hockey Club was founded in 1988 on the back of the GB men’s Olympic gold medal win in Seoul.

Founded by Tim Poeton, this was the first hockey team in Tower Hamlets and started in the bottom league, playing at the John Orwell Sports Centre.

Now, in 2017, it has over 400 players, they play games at a national stadium and can proudly say they were the first urban east London club to break into the National League.

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Chairman Stuart Burnside is the driving force behind this club and since taking on his role in 2013, has taken his club to new heights.

“We are one of the fastest growing and successful hockey clubs in London,” said Burnside, a successful lawyer who has used his business skills to drive his club forward.

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“Changing the approach of how we are run, making it a lot more professional, has been key to making this club the success it has become,” he added.

Wapping now have 19 sponsors, which has allowed the club to provide free playing shirts both home and away to each new member.

The chairman has a philanthropic approach to his club and firmly believes in giving back to the community, adding: “I use my skills to give back to the community. I direct players to use local business who in return can give back to us.”

Originally from Wakefield, Yorkshire, the 36-year-old hockey enthusiast has spent his time working hard, making sure his club is accessible to all and incorporating community businesses as much as he can.

“We had more than a hundred new players this year and our size has doubled since 2012. We have 430 members and 20 teams playing every Saturday.”

The club aims to incorporate everyone in the community by providing a youth programme each Saturday.

“We have a Wapping Kidd programme aimed at Primary age children that runs every Saturday from 9.30-11am at the John Orwell Sports Centre,” added Burnside.

“We currently have 26 children, but I would like to expand this section to over 500 children in time. Starting them at this age allows them the potential to possibly become future Olympians.”

Wapping Hockey is committed to being 100 per cent inclusive and integrates disability players into the mainstream club.

Burnside said: “I look at what the barriers are that stop people from playing and participating in sport and I try and remove them. Sport is for everybody but not everybody gets the same opportunities.”

Tower Hamlets resident Burnside has a love for the game and its family environment, adding: “Hockey can provide an environment to create a social positive change. We have 40-50 volunteers,and they keep growing, as do our sponsors.”

Asked for the secret of their success, he adds: “Hard work and persistence by enthusiastic volunteers who believe in our sport.”

For further information about Wapping Hockey Club please see their website.

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