On a wet, windy day between Christmas and the New Year the power of sport to cross generations was in full display. At Pelicans Hockey Club, 30 plus players of both genders, all ages and all abilities took to the field to play in a friendly hockey match. Two families – the Carters and the Lankfers – turned out in force to play or support their teams in what should be an annual match.
Watching on was 82-year-old Neville Carter, president of Pelicans Hockey Club and, in his time, a player, umpire and club officer. For the purposes of this match, he was a proud father and grandfather as his four daughters, their four spouses and numerous grandchildren all played under the Carter family banner.
Facing them was the Lankfer family. Charlie Lankfer is club chairman, his brother James was former first team captain and his wife is a member of the ladies first team. Preparing refreshments and watching on with maternal pride was Jill Lankfer, Charlie and James’ mother and, like Neville, a staunch and long-term supporter of the club.
The seminal moment came when nine-year-old Oscar, playing in his first match, was able to turn a pass from his older cousin George into the net. The delight on the youngster’s face was enough to tell the story.
A few days earlier another young lad had been at the centre of a great sporting moment. The event was the Sports Personality of the Year Award, the star of the show was Bailey Matthews. The eight-year-old boy, who has cerebral palsy, had just completed his first triathlon unaided and as a result of his bravery, the lad received the Helen Rollason Award. As millions of people watched Bailey’s unbridled delight at receiving the award, it would have taken a cold heart not to be touched to the soul by the bright little boy’s bravery and enthusiasm for his sport.
Just over four years ago, the world tuned into one of the greatest sporting events ever held as the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics lit up the world. That event unleashed a new enthusiasm for sport in the UK, with new heroes created, amazing feats of athletic and gymnastic achievement performed and a whole new generation of participants and volunteers energised to take up new activities. We are at the start of another Olympic year and having seen firsthand the joy that sport creates at every level, I for one can’t wait for another great sporting year.