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Manager of Balham-based hockey club wins BBC award!

Manager of Balham-based hockey club wins BBC award!

| by Editor | Posted in Health & Fitness
Marcia receiving her award from BBC London Sport’s Lauren Moore

Marcia Gurney-Champion, a sports-mad Streatham resident and mum of three, is an unsung hero of sport – and that’s official! Marcia has been announced as the winner of BBC London Sport’s Unsung Hero award.

The annual award recognises people who have made an amazing contribution to community sport in the London area. And by winning the London award, Marcia will be attending the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show on December 15th when she will be in contention for the national Unsung Hero award.

Marcia runs Spencer Junior Hockey Club which has over 550 junior players on its books. This year she has dramatically expanded the club’s remit by introducing free hockey coaching to local children who did not have the opportunity to play hockey, or indeed much sport at all. This latest dream was realised in September when, together with a team of committed volunteers, she co-founded Spencer Lynx, an outreach hockey club made up of 50 children from local state schools.

The Spencer Lynx training sessions are already proving a roaring success.  The boys and girls are fully embracing their new sport, enjoying not only playing hockey, but also being part of a club with all the benefits that this can bring: making friends from other schools, getting fit, and learning important life skills like resilience, determination and self-belief.

Marcia with members of Spencer Lynx!

The long-term aim is to provide a pathway from Spencer Lynx into the main Spencer Club, with bursary places being offered where appropriate.

The youngsters are also having a lot of fun, and receiving top-quality coaching, helped in no small part by the fact that Marcia persuaded GB hockey player, and fellow Streatham resident, Rhys Smith, to get involved with the programme.

Rhys loved sport from an early age, which motivated him to apply for a bursary and sports scholarship to attend a private secondary school in Croydon.  There he was introduced to hockey, which was his springboard into professional sport – he is now part of the England and Great Britain squads.  Marcia knew that Rhys would be the perfect inspirational figure for the Lynx members, and getting him involved has really put the icing on the cake.  Of Marcia’s award Rhys commented “This is fantastic news for a great woman.  Well done and well deserved.”

Originally from Guyana, Marcia’s parents moved to Lambeth when she was four years old, and she has lived in the area ever since.  The Lynx children currently train at La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls’ School, Balham, the school where Marcia herself first learned to play hockey during her secondary school years.  Marcia said: “It is all very surreal and still a bit unbelievable to think that this little old sports fanatic will be heading off to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards! But I am just a cog in this huge Spencer Juniors machine, so thank you to everyone else who has done what they do, to make this moment possible.”

Junior Club Chairman, Tony Matharu commented: “When I set up Spencer Juniors in 2002, with Lesley Gairns, there were insufficient children within any age group of either sex to have any attempt at a game.  No-one could have imagined the speed and scale of growth of the junior membership and the size of the task Marcia now faces to keep it all going. I am particularly proud and grateful that she has managed to maintain the Spencer ethos of inclusivity and that, despite the continued focus on enjoyment and participation, the Club continually achieves County and now even National player recognition.”

The Spencer Lynx programme is currently being funded through the fundraising efforts of Spencer Hockey members, and a Justgiving page has been set up for donations.

The programme would benefit from additional funding, sponsorship or grants as the team is keen to continue offering training to the current cohort of members, plus to extend its reach to other year groups. The club can be contacted at or via its social media pages.

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