An Eccleshall goalkeeper was the hero of the hour as a string of fine saves steered his school side to a new national hockey title at an Olympic stadium in London.
Eleven-year-old Freddie Nakash kept out three penalties during a tense final at the Independent Schools’ Association (ISA) under-11 boys’ national championships.
Nakash was among a 10-man squad at Stafford Preparatory School (SPS) who travelled to the Lee Valley Stadium where they defied the odds to become the tournament’s first champions.
“To get the opportunity to play at an Olympic stadium was fantastic and I’ve never been prouder than when the players received their medals. The boys showed grit and determination and competed as a unit throughout. It’s an even greater achievement when you consider we play hockey as an after school club once a week and had to take on some big schools where hockey is a named sport for boys,”
said Stafford Prep’s deputy head teacher, Cheryl Martin.
A dozen schools across England took part in the event and after a nervous start a vital draw in their last group match saw the boys safely through to the cup stage. As the tournament wore on they gained momentum, defeating Kenilworth outfit Crackley Hall 1-0. Eccleshall’s Nakash then denied Lingfield Notre Dame (Surrey) with three outstanding saves to take the tie to penalty shuffles, where goals by team mates Matthew Cutler and Thomas Green fired SPS into the final.
In an all action clash for the title against Surrey-based Weston Green School the score remained goalless at full time, forcing SPS into more penalty shuffles. Nakash continued his rich vein of form when he saved all three of his opponents’ shots, while Thomas Green slotted in the winner.