CAPITAL hockey star Allan Dick works in the shadow of the 2012 Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London, but next week his attentions will be fully focused on the Engage Sports Centre at Napier University.
Dick’s Inverleith club host the EuroHockey Indoor Club Champions Trophy from February 17-19 and the goalkeeper is set to play a key role as the Capital outfit take on seven of Europe’s top teams.
Dick will head north for the event from his Tower Hamlets base, having landed a job in a trail-blazing project which aims to introduce sport to children in one of Britain’s most populated and financially deprived areas.
Dick is one of a team of 20 involved in Tower Hamlets Youth Sport Foundation and has a huge talent base to draw from. The borough has 237,000 residents – almost half the size of Edinburgh – crammed into an area of only seven-and-a-half square miles.
Dick has introduced hockey into the Langdon Park School and the youngsters have acquitted themselves well in tournaments at home and abroad. Meanwhile, one of their judo players has received national recognition and a 17-year-old has been handed a cricket contact from the MCC.
Other pupils excel at handball, badminton, water polo, Tae Kwon Do and fencing.
Dick revealed: “There are around 30 languages spoken here, and they include Bangladeshi, Turkish, Somali, Lithuanian and Polish.
“Only three per cent of the adult population are into sport and we have to cut across the social and religious spectrum, but we’re making an impact.
“The youngsters have raw talent. They play with real enthusiasm. They want to play and want to win.
“They have played and beaten old, established London clubs and they are pushing for regional and county representation.
“The parents can’t go as they have other responsibilities, like child care, so we take them and we make sure that they have what they need to play.”
Dick’s project is funded by local authority and Government grants and it is so highly thought of that the team have received visits from educationalists from Iraq, Pakistan, Jamaica and Spain.
Dick’s role is a demanding one but he still finds time to return to Scotland at weekends to play for Inverleith’s indoor team. The Edinburgh club won 13 of their 14 league games last year to win the Scottish title, the club’s first in 30 years, and earned them a passport to Europe. Next weekend will see them take on Polish champions WKS Grunwald, French cracks Lille, HC Kolos-Sekvoia from Ukraine, HC 1972 Rakovnik from the Czech Republic, Slagelse UC of Denmark, Ad Lousada from Portugal and Belgian kingpins Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles.
Dick said: “It’s a massive thing for the club and we’re pulling out all the stops to make a success of it. It’s being held at Edinburgh Napier University’s new complex at Sighthill, just yards from my former place of employment, and seven of Europe’s top sides will be there.
“It’s the biggest thing the club have ever done and we’re looking for support from all over Scotland.”
• The EuroHockey Indoor Club Champions Trophy will be played at Napier University’s Sighthill Campus from February 17-19. Tickets are available on the day at venue or via www.ticketweb.co.uk; Prices are £5 for a day ticket and £12 for a three-day ticket. Under-16s can enter free with a ticketholder while Senior Citizens can enjoy free entry.