Yorkshire and Humber head to Nottingham for this year’s National Championships with a strong squad, made up of students from 12 different colleges.
Last year the region managed to finish mid-table in sixth, but certainly look to have the potential to better that this time around.
Last year’s result: 6th place
Colleges representing the region in 2017: Barnsley College, Craven College, Greenhead College, Huddersfield New College, John Leggott College, New College Pontefract, Selby College, Shipley College, The Sheffield College, Wakefield College, Wyke Sixth Form College, York College.
Star team: Until two years ago Selby College had never had any representatives at the National Championships. On that occasion, their women’s volleyball team gave a good account of themselves, but were outmuscled by the likes of Newcastle-Under-Lyme and Middlesborough College.
However, this time out in Nottingham, they are hoping their men’s football team will fair slightly better. Having won the regional tournament with relative ease, beating the likes of Barnsley College and Wyke College along the way, they can be confident of their chances at the National Championships. They only conceded two goals on route to regional victory and, against solid opposition, that’s no mean feat.
The team say they are proud to represent Yorkshire and Humberside at the Nationals and are aiming to upset the odds once again as they go for gold.
One to watch: New College Pontefract are no strangers to the Indoor24 format of cricket having won AoC Sport’s inaugural Indoor24 tournament, and then going on to retain the trophy the following year. However, things did not go to plan at last year’s Championships, when cricket was first introduced as a showcase event, with ‘Ponty’ failing to finish in the top two but still coming away with a bronze medal.
This year coach Leon Sacks is going for a youthful approach but has also added a mix of experience with some older players. Sacks said: “The lads are mostly first year students and really excited about the opportunity to represent Yorkshire and Humberside, and looking forward to a weekend away in Nottingham. We are hopeful of progressing past the semi-finals where we have been knocked out in the last two years after winning it the year before that at Edgbaston.
The team is captained by third year Connor Fisher, who Sacks says “understands the fine art of batting indoors”, so certainly looks like one to keep an eye on. Fisher is joined by fellow third year Brodie Matthews, as well as first years Luke Edwards, Sonny Day Tennant, Joss Pickup, George Tinker and Tim Turner.
In the individual events, a mention must also go to Selby’s Joel Hancox, who produced a stand out performance in the boys’ singles tennis tournament to gain the right to represent the region at the National Championships.
Joel won the regionals beating an opponent from Sheffield College in the final, in which he only gave away one point. In fact, his performances were so dominant that Joel only gave away three points in total throughout the whole competition, so he is definitely one to watch at the Championships.
National Championships veterans: Greenhead College trio Olivia Sykes, Lucy Byram and Erica Byram were part of the Yorkshire and Humber cross country team who won silver at last year's National Championships, and are hoping to go one better this year.
And the girls’ records individually and as a team speak for themselves. So far this year the girls have won team gold at the Northern Cross Championships and the Yorkshire Cross Country Championships coming 4th, 5th & 6th respectively, and securing selection into the Yorkshire Team for the Inter Counties Championships on 11 March. The girls have also secured places for the English Schools Championships coming 1st, 6th & 7th in the West Yorkshire round.
So it’s fair to say their incredibly fine form, coupled with a hunger to win the gold medal that eluded them last year, means they will be fearsome opponents in Nottingham.
What they say: “I have been attending the National Championships with a variety of students, competing in a range of sports for the last four years. When I went to my first Championships, I thought it would be just be another competition, but soon realised that the Championships is a serious competition for students from all regions. Being a sport lover, it's great to see such talent across all sports over the course of the event. The weekend is such a high standard of competitive games, it challenges all students to be their best. I know all the students enjoy the weekend competing against the best from other regions. What really makes the Championships such a great event is the respect and sportsmanship between all regions and all players wanting to represent their region. AoC Sport is doing a great job with the National Championships. It is growing every year with more students taking part, plus the venues are such high quality, students feel they are in a professional environment. I look forward to attending for a fifth year.”
Peter Lombard, Head of Cricket/Sports for All Coordinator, Huddersfield New College
“It only seems like yesterday we were at Northumbria University for the 2016 National Championships and I hope, at least, the weather is significantly better than last year! It is fantastic for our sector to host our National Championships in yet another world class venue, this time the brand new David Ross Sports Village.
“Yorkshire and Humberside are once again looking forward to trying to better themselves at this year’s Championships. We have new colleges attending this year who have not been for some years and so welcome to those staff and students who are experiencing National Championships again or for the first time. Thank you to those volunteers who helped make the regionals work so well, the staff for committing your time over the weekend to allow students to compete, and to team ‘White Rose’ give it everything, enjoy it and go better Yorkshire and Humberside’s 2016 score!”
James Earl, Bishop Burton College and Yorkshire & Humber Regional Operations Chair