Leeds Knights set up clear pathway for juniors to progress to senior ranks

AS Leeds Knights keep busy building a team ready for their immediate future in NIHL National, they are also laying foundations for the club’s long-term prospects.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 7:35 am
VISION: Steve Nell, owner of Leeds Knights. Picture: Steve Riding.

Today, sees the launch of Junior Knights, with Elland Road Arena set to stage two open trials next month.

When taking over as owner of the Leeds franchise back in April, Steve Nell stated he was keen to develop the sport at all levels, from seniors right down to grassroots juniors.

Today’s announcement sees him take the first steps towards that, with the junior programme being overseen by chairman Seth Bennett, a junior coach who helped launch the Manchester Storm Academy, and head coach Mike Forbes, who has coached juniors in Hull for the past decade.

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Seth Bennett will be chairman of Junior Knights.

Dave Whistle, the former Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils boss recently appointed as head coach and GM of the Knights’ senior team, will also be involved, using his years of working at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Canada.

“I am passionate about developing players in Leeds, so there is a pathway from first stepping on the ice to playing for the NIHL Knights,” said Nell.

“We want to have strong roots in the community. That means getting people into the rink and getting them to experience hockey, whether that is watching the Knights or deciding they want to play – so having a junior club is imperative.”

Bennett added: “Steve and I have a wealth of experience between us in junior hockey and together we want to provide one of the best and most progressive programmes in the country and an environment where kids will enjoy playing one of the fastest and most exciting sports in the world.”

The first Junior Knights open trial will be held on Sunday, July 11 between 6.30pm – 8.00pm at Planet Ice, Elland Road, with a second trial held at the same time on July 18.

The club are initially recruiting for players born from 2006-2011 to play next season, although players from other year groups are welcome at the trials. All players need to be wearing full ice hockey kit.

For more information and to register for the trials please email: [email protected]