Thurston Community College were the surprise package of this year’s Tchoukball UK National Youth Championships winning the under 16 title, while Bury Dukes took home the under 18 title for a third successive year.
The two Suffolk teams were joined by Rushden Academy, Fareham Youth, Cardinal Wiseman School, Amesbury School and The Norwood School. Set up in a league where all teams played each other once, with the highest-placed under 18 and under 16 teams in the league picking up the titles, Dukes, part of Bury St Edmunds Tchoukball Club, finished top after winning all six of their games.
Thurston finished second, but claimed the under 16 title as the highest team in that age group. It was a remarkable achievement for a team including only one regular player, Ellie Eden, who is part of the Bury St Edmunds Tchoukball Club set up.
The side even led for the first few minutes of their title-deciding match against Bury, before the three-times champions defensive strength told. The under 16 title was decided in an enthralling match between Thurston and Rushden.
Level-pegging all the way Thurston managed to secure a 20-18 victory in the final minute, claiming the title on head-to-head results, despite finishing level on points with their Northamptonshire opponents.
Hampshire-based Fareham Youth picked up the runners-up trophy for the under 18 competition after finishing second, losing tight matches to the three teams above them.
They too were part of a thrilling match, defeating Cardinal Wiseman 10-9, to push the Birmingham based side into fifth place in the league and third in the under 16 standings.
The youngest side in the tournament, Amesbury School from Surrey, were delighted when the managed to beat The Norwood School from London who themselves upset the odds when they defeated Cardinal Wiseman.
The event was a triumph for Tchoukball UK, seeing its junior competition grow fro strength to strength.
Bury’s head coach Ian Parker said he was very impressed with the ability on show.
“Compared with previous years our players were really made to work for the title and it was great to see so many young, enthusiastic and talented players out there. For example, I had no idea how good the players from Thurston, just a few miles from Bury, were.”
“The job now is to keep them playing.”
Pete King, Head of Development and lead organiser during the competition was delighted with the performances of the young players:
“The Youth Cup just keeps growing with lots more interest each year. It’s great to have interest from the Norwood School in Lambeth right through to the West Midlands and Northamptonshire. We will set up next year planning for an even bigger competition.”