Waltham Forest youth coordinator Matt Lovell in the running for BBC Unsung Hero of the Year Award

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Matt Lovell has won the London round of the BBC Unsung Hero of the Year Award Matt Lovell has won the London round of the BBC Unsung Hero of the Year Award

Waltham Forest’s youth coordinator Matt Lovell will be up against 14 other regional winners for the BBC Unsung Hero of the Year Award on Sunday.

Lovell won the BBC London Unsung Hero Award and is now in contention for the national prize after eight years of work with the club’s junior section.

The hockey maestro was presented with his regional award at one of Waltham Forest’s training sessions last month with the club’s juniors all crowded round.

He said: “This award is recognition of the time all of our volunteers have given up over the years.

“With the club having grown so much over the years and without so many of our members committing their time to helping out, we wouldn’t be able to offer hockey for free in the way that we do.

“For me hockey and team sport in general offers a great opportunity for children to interact with other kids their own age and learn all sorts of life skills.

“At Waltham Forest Hockey Club we aim to encourage anyone, irrespective of age or ability the chance to try hockey and hopefully enjoy a new sport.”

Forest started with just two children on its books but has built that base up over the years and the club now has more than 40 juniors playing in the adult ranks, a further 100 training every week and the capital’s first pan-disability junior hockey section.

The club has also expanded from six adult teams to ten in that time with numbers bolstered by a crop of talented youngsters moving through the age groups.

Building relationships with local schools, councils and sports clubs, Lovell has helped provide free coaching for the London Youth Games team and run their annual Mini-Games tournament for primary schools.

On top of his role at the hockey club, Lovell has for the past four years also run a junior league for Under-10s, Under-12s and as of this year, Under-14s across Essex, Suffolk and Hertfordshire.

Under his stewardship, the league has progressed from a single league to three separate divisions this season and provides 26 teams from across the South East with the opportunity for their children to play competitive hockey matches.

During the past eight years, through coaching in schools, external events and the club’s own training sessions, Lovell’s work has allowed more than 5,000 people to try hockey for the first time.

The national winner of the BBC Unsung Hero of the Year Award will be announced at the televised BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony on Sunday night.

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