Last weekend (Saturday 10th June 2023) saw the return of the Tchoukball UK National Youth Finals. Taking place at Loughborough University, the event was a huge success; with five schools from across the country competing against one another for the title of National Youth Champions.
An afternoon of tough competition, hard work, and fair play made for a triumphant event for all involved. Sybil Andrews School’s undefeated run saw them finish the afternoon with a maximum points total. Furthermore, Ash Manor School took home the prestigious Fair Play award for their virtuous performances and exemplary displays of respect on the court, seeing them awarded a coveted set of tchoukball frames.
Completing the line-up of competitors were the teams of Rhinos Youth, Kings Edward VI, and Bury Youth, all of whom contributed marvellous performances, and participated with excellent collective skill.
The format of the competition saw each team compete in eight games, a match-up against each opponent twice – giving ample opportunity to reflect and adapt to the previous game’s performance. This made for some incredibly tense scorelines, such as the 19-17 thriller seeing Kings Edwards VI narrowly pip Rhino Youth to the post. Later Rhino Youths emerged victorious as they took a single-point lead over an unlucky Bury Youth at the final whistle, enough to seal a victory for the south coast team.
The finals were a wonderful display of what Tchoukball has to offer, and it was clear that the future of the sport is in good hands. We spoke to the Team UK Youth Coach, Ian Parker to get his thoughts.
“It was amazing to see the Tchoukball UK Youth Finals back up and running. While there were players we have seen before, it was great to see so many new faces. As the Team UK Youth Coach, I hope I get to see some of those attending more competitions and hopefully international events in the near future. I can’t wait to attend the event again next year”.
The success of the Tchoukball UK National Youth Finals is a testament to the importance of youth development for the sport. Tchoukball is a great way for young people to get active and stay healthy, and it teaches them important life skills such as teamwork, sportsmanship, and discipline. For more on this, we had a word with Tchoukball UK’s Independent Director – Development, Lisa McCormick:
“It was fantastic to see 5 teams from across the country gather in Loughborough for a day of tightly contested fixtures. The standard of play from all teams involved was high, with a number of close-run fixtures and fantastic examples of fair play. The delivery of this event marks a milestone in Tchoukball UK’s efforts to drive participation and competition for schools and youth organisations.”
The upcoming World Championships will see many competitors who came through the UK’s schools system taking part, such as European elite shooter James Skilton and returning senior player Mack Hofberg, both of whom played through the age groups as schoolboys, competing against one another at previous iterations of the very competition that took place last weekend. Reflecting on the importance of youth to the UK Senior Squad; Andrew Cummins, Coach of the UK Men’s team, had this to say:
“It was great to see the next generation competing at a competitive UK event. Schools are the future of our sport, and opportunities like this for the kids to play and meet other players will allow them to grow the sport and their own confidence and abilities. I hope that one day we will see several of these players turning out for our respective international teams”.
After a day of tough-fought battles, and much energy exerted, each of the schools gathered for a final group photo in the Loughborough University hall; the shared enjoyment of the activity left all with smiles on their faces.
We’ll return to Lisa McCormick for the final words:
“A huge thank you to the volunteers working behind the scenes and on the day to make this tournament a reality. There’s some real momentum behind youth Tchoukball at present, and as an entirely volunteer-run Governing Body, these individuals are key to the delivery of our competitions and events year-round. We hope to see many of the teams from the weekend’s event back with us in 2024, as we hope to grow the competition with more regional qualifier events.”