The Royal Mechelen Tennis and Hockey Club (KMTHC) in Homebeek (Mechelen) will begin construction of the three paddle fields later this summer. The field should be ready for play in autumn. With the realization of regions, the club wants to provide even more options to the sports enthusiasts. The club organizes various internships for the youth to get a taste of this offer.
stijn van de sande
The racquet sport paddle has never been as popular as it is today and tennis and hockey club KMTHC Homebeek is also surfing the hype. In autumn, the club will use three paddle areas. KMTHC will build it next to the new hockey ground. “Originally, we wanted to prepare the fields for the summer, but it was not possible due to the delay in the permit application. That is why we are now aiming to get the grounds ready for play for September or October,” says President Alexander Algoet.
Some other tennis clubs in Mechelen decided to switch from tennis to paddle altogether. “But we don’t want to go that far,” Algoet says. “It is like a very conscious strategy to offer different sports in one place and focus on hockey and tennis. With over a thousand hockey players and over three hundred tennis players, we are already one of the largest sports clubs in the Mechelen region. The pedals are a nice addition to that, just like the team for cycling tourists we recently started. “
An investment of approximately 100,000 euros is involved in the construction of the three paddle fields. “No other area should be lost,” Algoet says. “All seven tennis courts, some of which have been covered, will be protected. There will also be two water areas for hockey. Negotiations are also going on for a third hockey ground. It should come in time to accommodate the growing interest in hockey. “
Alessandro Gelens also confirms this. He coaches the women’s team of KMTHC and coordinates internships for the children during school holidays. “One ground is enough to accommodate five hundred hockey players. Now we have a thousand members and so have just come. Due to the success of the hockey team at the Olympics, interest in the sport is only increasing. So we are hopeful that a solution can be worked out with the cooperation of various authorities so that facilities can be increased with them.”
The popularity of hockey is also noticeable during the various summer internships organized by the club. “At the moment we have about a hundred kids going to joint tennis and hockey camps and internships with hockey only”, says Gellins. “We think it is important to give children the opportunity to be exposed to these sports from an early age. Especially the combination of hockey and tennis during a single internship is quite unique in our field.”
As a club, KMTHC focuses not only on entertainment, but also on performance-oriented sports. For example, the first women’s hockey team plays in the Eredivisie, the highest level. The first men’s team plays a division lower. Many of the players and players on these teams come from overseas, such as South Africa or Australia, and are used during youth internships. As a result, English is often spoken during lessons. Still, it doesn’t seem to be a problem.
“It’s just an advantage”, say Louis-Max (11) and mile (10), who also dream of one day following in the footsteps of the red lions. “That way we not only get better at playing hockey, but we also learn English. We play together in the same team at KMTHC and the season will start soon. We are already getting some momentum during this internship. Some kids are already playing hockey in this camp, but there are others for whom this is a first time. We try to give them as many tips as possible because it’s a very fun game.”