View from the stands: visiting the new Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre

England fans with Jasper at the Investec London Cuo 2014, Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre

Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre has held its first four days of competitive action last week, with the Investec London Cup welcoming over 10,000 hockey fans back to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the first time since the London 2012 Games.

Those who came to the event ranged from hockey fanatics to those simply looking for an exciting day out and a social event. Regardless, the support each team received was overwhelming, with huge crowds cheering on their country from game to game. It gave a nice glimpse of what’s to come on a bigger scale next summer, when England Hockey hosts the EuroHockey Championships 2015, also at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, with tickets going on sale in a week’s time – on the 24th July.

An inspiring event, for all involved… 

A typical day would not only display four games of high quality and exciting hockey, but also offer a wide range of entertainment in the Fan Park. Younger fans, in particular, got involved in the fun zone where they could play on the inflatable pitches and compete in the speed cage. 

The inflatable pitch at the Investec London Cup fun zone, Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre 2014

A parent of one of these children enthused “It’s great that there’s so much on offer to keep the kids entertained in between matches, they love to play so will take any chance to have a knock around with their friends, especially when they’ve been inspired by all the great hockey we’ve seen”. 

Another highlight for the younger generation was being able to meet the players after each game, in many cases getting their sticks, balls or playing shirts signed by their favourite hockey star. Many fans were overwhelmed and extremely grateful to all players that took their time to talk to individuals and sign their possessions, with players staying for up to an hour after their match had finished.

Fans with wigs wait for autographs at the Investec London Cup 2014, Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre 2014

It was evident how inspired many children became after seeing their country perform so well. One youngster said after watching England win 8-0: “Hockey isn't my favourite sport, but seeing England win today has made me want to try as hard as I can to get into the A team, and maybe even join a club!” Both England teams performed very well to win gold in their respective tournaments, and the women’s team will be happy to have got back on track after a difficult World Cup last month.

Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, England’s new home of international hockey was able show, with flare and plenty of support, how popular this growing sport is. Players were able to reach out to the younger generation and are the key to inspiration, giving them the extra drive they may need. Seeing their country play, and play well, can be the difference between hockey being enjoyed at school and taking it to the next level in a club environment.

However, it wasn’t just the kids who were entertained – one adult fan said “The new pitch is so close to the action; its easy to feel involved and get stuck in, we’ve quickly been in awe of the skills on show”. Another commented “The pitch is amazing, it’s nice to have a permanent venue and a legacy in the Olympic Park that we can come and enjoy all the time. The hockey is also very exciting, I'm very pleased both the England teams are in the final”.

Jess relaxes to watch the Hockey at the Investec London Cup 2014

There was positive feedback throughout the tournament and we could quote numerous fans that we spoke to. Another fan nicely summed up the sentiment we’d heard so often: “I think this is a great venue, they've worked really hard, it’s really geared towards the people that are watching the show. I’ve absolutely loved the hockey, we’ve been here since first thing this morning and watched every minute of it, it’s been great.” 

Not only are the fans inspired, the players are now able to work towards the Commonwealth Games with a positive mind-set, aiming to achieve medals and continue to inspire.

The event also gives a very positive outlook for the EuroHockey Championships 2015, which England Hockey are hosting at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in August 2015. For more information, please visit our EuroHockey 2015 page.