Flying high

Midland Mencap hockey team in European Championships fundraiser.

Midland Mencap has announced plan for its latest fundraiser to send the Midland Mencap Big Flyerz hockey team off on their biggest challenge yet, a hockey tour to Amsterdam to compete in the 2017 European ParaHockey Championships.

The Big Flyerz team are no strangers to competition, having previously taken home bronze for England in 2015 at the European Paralympic Hockey Internationals in London, after making history by being the first team of adults with learning disabilities to represent England in a recognised tournament. The team of Midland hopefuls now plan to add another medal to their tally by competing in the forthcoming championships in Amsterdam, challenging current titleholders Portugal.

The European ParaHockey Championships will take place from 20th-23rd August 2017 at Amsterdam hockey club Pinoké. First round matches begin on 21st August, with the final set to be played in the Wagener Stadium on the morning of 23rd August.

Midland Mencap Big Flyerz squad member Oliver Clayton comments: “I’m loving everything about training, especially scoring goals. I’m looking forward to meeting new people in Amsterdam, and playing sport abroad. I want the team to do better than in London where we finished third and finish second, or first”.

The Big Flyerz team are now tasked with raising a target amount of £6,500 to get them to the tournament, with Midland Mencap launching a stream of fundraising activities over the next six months to help support the Flyerz team on their journey. They have already gained some high-profile supporters including the European Hockey Federation and two of the gold medal winning hockey players of the 2016 Rio Olympics, Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh and Helen Richardson-Walsh, who both shared their support for the Big Flyerz team on social media.

Steve Bradley, Health and Wellbeing coordinator and head hockey coach at Midland Mencap contributes: “The chance for Midland Mencap hockey players to compete at the 2017 ParaHockey Championships in Amsterdam against other European National teams has really caught the imagination of players, staff and parents. Para Hockey in Europe has been played for years, so we have a bit of catching up to do, but the squad are really gaining confidence with every training session and enjoying the challenge!

“The European Hockey Championships will be running alongside the ParaHockey so our players will have the opportunity to play on the same pitches as the gold medal winning ladies hockey team and like them, hopefully, they will be able to inspire the next generation of players”.

Supporters can help to support the The Big Flyerz team by making a donation at the link.