YOUNG hockey players will do battle before England officials at the weekend in a major tournament showcasing a school’s latest hi-tech facilities.

Carmel College will host the junior tournament on Sunday (Oct 15) organised by Darlington Hockey Club attracting top players from around the area.

The £1/2m brand new all-weather pitch came on stream last month transforming a quagmire into one of the best facilities in the area.

As a result, interest in the sport at the college has grown among boys and girls to the point where it has replaced football on the curriculum.

With the support of Sport England & England Hockey, Carmel College invested in the all weather pitch so more than 1,200 children can exercise and develop their skills in bad weather.

Home to Darlington Hockey Club, its members also deliver training sessions for students forging links between the school and the community.

Members of England Hockey will be in attendance on Sunday for the prestigious festival of sport.

PE teacher Rachael Bowes said: “The new pitch is amazing and has allowed us to generate a huge interest in hockey. We have boys’ and girls’ teams playing and training, both in and outside school hours and we are really looking forward to hosting the tournament.

“We have only been using the pitch since September and already we are seeing some very capable young players come through from all year groups. Our Year 12 and 13 players are being joined by other sixth form students from around the area who are using the pitches for training, making it a truly community facility.”

Olivia Austin, 16, said: “Hockey is great fun, a fabulous way to run off some energy and learn how to be a better team player.”

Matthew Phillips, 15, added: “We were amazed when football was replaced by hockey but we are really enjoying it and it is certainly just as competitive.”

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