East London enjoying surge in hockey interest

East London Hockey Club are based at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre on the Olympic Park

East London Hockey Club are based at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre on the Olympic Park - Credit: Archant

Club has experienced huge growth in recent years

East London Hockey Club has enjoyed significant growth in recent years

East London Hockey Club has enjoyed significant growth in recent years - Credit: Archant

The Tower Hamlets-based East London Hockey Club was formed in 1990 by serving Metropolitan Police officers who wanted to play hockey.

The club was then based at Chigwell and comprised of one men’s team and one women’s team.

Now, they have 511 members, run eight mens’ teams, nine womens’ teams, a youth section and even a veterans section and are based at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre and Mile End Park.

The club is completely diverse and made up of doctors, musicians, graphic artists and many students.

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Chairman Daniel Goodacre attributes their growing success to the way the club is run, saying: “We are a very open and accessible club. We pride ourselves on being a friendly club that welcomes all.”

With over 100 new players joining East London HC last season, the club had to create a new league with the help of England Hockey to accommodate their women’s eighths and ninths.

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“Due to the amount of women we had join, we created a new league to support them. Our club is a community; it is about making friends on and off the pitch,” added Goodacre.

The club is also full of overseas players who have come to the borough for work, join the club and make lasting friendships. They have seen grandfathers and grandsons play together as well as several marriages.

“Finding a way to support our players is vital. We are a community, people come to London, join our club and enjoy sport as well as a strong social side. By nature we are one of the youngest clubs, with an average age of 26,” said Goodacre.

Last year saw the club, with the help of England Hockey, also launch a new scheme called ‘Friday Evening Hockey Hangout’.

This was aimed at former players or new players who cannot play on Saturdays and want to play a game of hockey. Members turn up every Friday for a fun and friendly game.

They also launched a disability hockey section for children with the help of Access Sport, which plays every Sunday morning at Mile End Park, running in conjunction with the youth section that also plays on Sunday morning from 10-11.30am.

The 33-year-old Goodacre began his love of hockey at school when a visiting player promoted it to students, and he went to watch.

Head of Business Planning for the Football Association, Goodacre is working hard to promote the club to local businesses, adding: “We are currently working on sponsorship deals within the community and welcome any new players or sponsors.”

He attributes the club’s success to ‘making sure people feel welcome on and off the pitch and running the club as community with a thriving social side that makes everyone feel welcome and no one is ever turned away’.

If you are interested in joining East London’s Friday Night Hockey Hangout or want more information visit the club’s website.

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