Local Sports Focus: Promise of participation has put Leeds Adel Hockey Club on the map

Leeds Adel HC U10 girls. PIC: Pamela Hardaker
Leeds Adel HC U10 girls. PIC: Pamela Hardaker
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If Someone Like You is looking for a community-oriented sports club for your family to get involved with, Rumour Has It that you might just want to say Hello to Leeds Adel Hockey Club.

And while their soundalike singer Adele has a penchant for break-up anthems, plenty of those who get involved with the hockey club find that they just can’t stay away.

Leeds Adel HC U16 boys. PIC: Pamela Hardaker

Leeds Adel HC U16 boys. PIC: Pamela Hardaker

That’s according to coach, umpire and former player Pamela Hardaker, who talks with warmth and enthusiasm about the family feel at the North Leeds club.

“That’s what our club is all about,” she says.

“It’s very much a family club. We just want to get people playing hockey and that is my big thing in the junior section, it’s about participation.”

Adel are a club with a rich history behind them.

Leeds Adel HC U12 girls. PIC: Pamela Hardaker

Leeds Adel HC U12 girls. PIC: Pamela Hardaker

First formed as far back as 1876 as a cricket club, hockey has been played there since the 1940s and local family histories can be traced back through the club’s records.

Children wear the club’s black and orange kits, grow up, have children of their own and return to help coach the new generation.

“Obviously a lot of them go away to university at 18, so we lose some at that age,” Pamela says.

“But we have, over the years found that an awful lot, if they come back into the area, come back and rejoin us because they’ve had a great experience in the junior section.

Leeds Adel HC U12 boys. PIC: Pamela Hardaker

Leeds Adel HC U12 boys. PIC: Pamela Hardaker

“I do the little ones’ training and we have quite a lot of parent helpers, and a few of the mums and dads play themselves.”

This level of enthusiasm for the sport naturally leads to a good standard of play, and though many have never played before when they start, plenty have gone on to great things.

The club now has boys’ and girls’ representatives in Yorkshire and West Yorkshire county sides across four age levels, and some have gone on to a higher level still.

Now plying her trade at Wimbledon Hockey Club, England and Team GB international Suzy Petty started out at Leeds Adel as a junior, and this summer won Commonwealth Bronze on Australia’s Gold Coast.

England and GB international Suzy Petty started out at Leeds Adel Hockey Club. PIC: Steven Paston/PA Wire

England and GB international Suzy Petty started out at Leeds Adel Hockey Club. PIC: Steven Paston/PA Wire

But this isn’t an ultra-competitive club that drags players up to standard kicking and screaming.

Far from it; Adel bring the best out of their youngsters by allowing them to simply enjoy themselves as they learn.

“The training is all based around fun and lots of game play. The fun could be things like the warm-up being a game like scarecrow catch, little games like that to get them into it.

“That’s what it’s about. Coming in and making friends with people and having fun.

“Then obviously they learn the game, the rules of hockey, but it’s done by a lot of small-sided games, two-v-twos on a ten-by-ten square, then we teach them the skills.

“So there will be a little bit of skills and then a lot more games so they can practise what they’ve learned.”

In the past, Pamela says that Adel had struggled to hold on to their best players as they were often lured to the area’s bigger clubs.

Now, though, youngsters are joining up and staying put, enjoying their hockey in one of the club’s 11 junior teams.

With seven girls’ sides and four boys’, the junior section of the club has grown to include around 150 youngsters from six to 16.

From 13, they are given opportunities to play with the adults’ sides, in some instances playing side-by-side with parents and other family members.

And it is very much a case of the more the merrier.

“Particularly with the very young age groups, the under-10s, we seem to be getting quite a lot coming in, and it’s better if they come into it at that level.

“It doesn’t matter what skill level they’ve got, whether they’ve played before, we encompass everything and everybody is welcome to come and get involved.”

factfile

Name: Leeds Adel Hockey Club

Based: AWMA Artificial Surface, Church Lane, Adel, Leeds, LS16 8DE

Teams: 11

Kids catered for: 150

Get involved: mail@leedsadelhockey.co.uk

Training: Friday evening for all teams apart from the boys’ U16s, who train with the men’s side on Wednesday evening