Ely & Chesterton United's Under-15s do the club proud during Eurockey Cup in Spain
It is always a satisfying feeling when a long-term plan starts to come to fruition – as Ely & Chesterton United Rink Hockey Club are currently finding out.
The club, who trains and play home matches at the Ross Peers Sports Centre in Soham, recently took its Under-15 team to Catalonia in Spain, where they competed in the Eurockey Cup.
And up against some of the best-known teams the sport has to offer, the youngsters came away with their heads held high.
They finished fifth overall, with the highlight being a 4-0 victory at the expense of Spanish side Vila-Sana.
The squad’s performances and conduct also earned them the PASSION award, handed out by the organisers to teams that displayed the three values of passion, friendship and respect.
The tournament marks the latest stage of the players’ development, and manager Roger Courtenay-Barrow is delighted with the progress.
He explained: “We started a project a number of years ago with girls’ roller hockey. Football seems to be overcoming it with all of the exposure it gets, but in roller hockey the girls were having to compete with the boys and by the age of 13 or 14 it becomes too physically demanding and we lose them.
“We decided to get a group of girls together and work with them, and going to this competition was part of the plan.
“Catalonia is probably the best place for female roller hockey at the moment. Spain are the world champions, so it’s where you need to be.
“And our results and performances suggested we’re not too far away. There is a lot of talent in our group and we’re very encouraged with what we saw – they did the club proud.”
Upon their return, the club was notified that five of their players had received call-ups to the England Under-17 squad for the European Championships in Portugal next month.
Newmarket Academy pair Scarlett Courtenay-Barrow and Sarah Figredo were among those to be selected along with Izzy Jansen, Lily-Rose Chandler and Emily Bolt. They have joined the club’s Malak Nasir and Leah Isaacson – based in Ely and Soham respectively – who have also been picked.
The team boss added: “It’s going to be a very young England team. Our players that have been selected will be able to represent the Under-17s for the next couple of years but we still think they’ll be competitive.
“They’ll keep working hard in our Eastern Region matches and we’re also entering a team into a northern ladies’ league which will give some of the youngsters more experience.
“Everything feels like it’s falling into a place and we’re really pleased with how it’s all going at the moment.”