On Thursday 24th November, 2016 ISA hosted the inaugural Junior Girls Hockey Championships at Lee Valley. The event welcomed 28 teams and over 250 aspiring young hockey players who represented schools who had travelled from far and wide, covering the whole breadth of the country. The event presented them the opportunity to play on the London 2012 Olympic hockey pitch, giving them the experience of an elite athlete and hopefully inspiring them to pursue their hockey dreams.
Underneath the glorious winter sunshine but with a sharp chill that was tough on the hands (especially when holding a hockey stick!), every single girl exemplified the outstanding attitude that is clearly abundant amongst ISA schools. Whilst there was a healthy glow of competition, each match was played wearing a smile that exuberated fun and enjoyment which created a refreshing tone throughout the day.
The morning began with group fixtures and by midday, strong contenders were beginning to emerge. In the Under 13s competition, Lingfield, Hull Collegiate, Alton Convent and Cundall Manor all proved extremely dominant in their groups. The Under 11 groups were proving even more competitive and there were impressive performances from Burton Hathow and Copthill. Following a brief lunch break, teams split in to their respective cup and plate groups, providing a new competitive challenge.
In the Under 13s plate competition Malvern St James found form, battling their way to the final achieving victory against a hard working Bowbrook team. In the equivalent Under 11’s competition, it was Rosemead who played excellent hockey to eventually triumph over a talented Park School team in the plate final.
The cup competitions proved to be a brilliant advert for independent school girls’ hockey with an array of impressive skills on display. In the Under 13s competition, it was the furthest travelled Northern based schools who stormed in to the final. Hull Collegiate faced off against York based Cundall Manor in an exciting fixture that was eagerly watched by interested spectators including GB international Phil Roper who had arrived to present the medals. Both teams should be proud of their performances but it was Cundall Manor who continued their form to win 3-1 and became National U13 Champions.
The Under 11s cup competition was similarly thrilling and there were many strong teams who were proving hard to beat. Copthill went through the competition unbeaten and were unfortunate to narrowly miss out on a final spot and Ballard looked strong but were just edged out. Contrasting with the U13s, the final was between two Southern based schools, Alton Convent and Lingfield Notre Dame. The match itself had everything; skill, agility, teamwork, determination to name a few. Despite good pressure from Lingfield, it was the Hampshire based school Alton Convent who were eventually victorious.
The day ended with a presentation of which the highlight was a guest appearance by England and GB International Phil Roper who began with providing a few words of inspiration for the onlooking girls who were clearly full of awe and eager to meet a star hockey player. Winners and runners up received their medals and the lucky winners were also presented with prizes from sponsors Evo Hockey who we are extremely grateful to. And then, as the sunlight receded we sent schools on their safe travels hoping that they’d all had a worthwhile trip to the capital.