Team triumph in European Para Hockey Championships.
Midland Mencap Big Flyerz Hockey Team has brought home gold for England, beating Spain 2-1 in the final of the European Para Hockey Championships. The team, who first made history in 2015 at the European Paralympic Hockey Internationals in London, as the first team of adults with learning disabilities to represent England in a recognised tournament, have today made history again.
In front of a crowd of over one thousand supporters, the highest ever attended para hockey game, the Midland Mencap Big Flyerz team took on Spain in a tense penalty shootout to decide their fate. Bryn Owen-Jones pulled England level, but it fell to captain Ross Faville to take the final penalty, calmly slotting the ball into the corner of the goal, taking Midland Mencap and England to victory.
The Big Flyerz team, who received a visit from the England women’s hockey team for invaluable tips and inspiration ahead of today’s final, were then handed their winning trophy and gold medals by GB gold medal winners Helen and Kate Richardson-Walsh.
Steve Bradley, Health and Wellbeing coordinator and head hockey coach at Midland Mencap contributes: “This has been the most amazing experience for all of the players, the coaches and the many families who came out to support. The comradery and spirit shown by all the countries involved was fantastic.
“Para Hockey in Europe has been played for years, but the achievement and capability of our disabled athletes in preparing for this competition has demonstrated a true show of commitment and dedication to promoting inclusion in sport”.
The Big Flyerz team, families and friends raised over £12,000 to get themselves to the tournament, following a stream of fundraising initiatives, and were strongly backed in their efforts by Midland Mencap CEO, Dave Rogers, who comments: “Everyone here at Midland Mencap is extremely proud that our Big Flyerz hockey team have brought home gold for England & the West Midlands.
“The commitment, enthusiasm and dedication shown by the players, their families and our staff has been incredible. Everyone has worked really hard to get the team ready for this amazing experience in Holland and it is fantastic that we have walked away with this incredible result”.
“With the city of Birmingham playing host to some truly high-profile sports events such as Mo Farah’s farewell track event, Birmingham International Marathon, the World Indoor Games and now Birmingham’s 2022 Commonwealth Games bid we are thrilled to help put disability sport right up there and to continue to raise its profile and increase participation by being the only group of players there representing England”.
The European Para Hockey Championships took place from 20th-23rd August 2017 at Amsterdam hockey club Pinoké.