The Royal Mechelen Tennis and Hockey Club (KMTHC) in Hombeek (Mechelen) will begin construction of three Padel fields at the end of this summer. The fields should be ready for play in the fall. Recognizing the fields, the club wants to offer more options to sports fans. To give young people a taste of this show, the club organizes various training sessions.
Stijn van de Sande
Racquet sports were never as popular as they are today, and KMTHC Tennis and Hockey Club from Hombeek is also surfing the hype. In the fall, the club will use three racket courts. KMTHC will build it alongside the new hockey stadium. “Originally, we wanted to prepare the fields for the summer, but this was not possible due to the delay in requesting the permit. That is why we are now aiming for September or October to prepare the fields for play,” says CEO Alexander Algot.
Few other tennis clubs from Mechelen decided to completely switch from tennis to the paddock. “But we don’t want to go that far,” says Algoet. “It’s like a very conscious strategy to offer different sports in one place and continue to focus on hockey and tennis. With over a thousand hockey players and over three hundred tennis players, we are already one of the biggest sports clubs in the Mechelen area. Padel is a great addition to that, and so is the team Tourists cycling that we started recently.”
The construction of the three padel fields requires an investment of about 100,000 euros. “There should be no other fields to die for,” says Algoet. “All seven tennis courts, some of which have been covered, will be preserved. The two water hockey fields will continue to exist as well. There are even talks of a third hockey court. This should come in time to accommodate the growing interest in hockey.”
As Alessandro Gillens confirms. He coaches the women’s team from KMTHC and coordinates internships for children during school holidays. “One field is enough to accommodate five hundred hockey players. We now have a thousand members and have just arrived. Due to the success of the hockey team in the Olympic Games, the interest in this sport is only increasing. So we hope that a solution will be found in cooperation with the various authorities so that the facilities can grow with them. “.
The popularity of hockey can also be seen during the various summer training periods organized by the club. “Right now we have about a hundred kids visiting a combined tennis and hockey camp and just to train with hockey,” Gillins says. “We believe it is important to give children the opportunity to engage with these sports from an early age. Especially since the combination of hockey and tennis during the same training period is very unique in our region.”
As a club, KMTHC focuses not only on recreational games but also on performance oriented sports. For example, the first women’s hockey team plays in the Eredivisie, which is the highest level. The men’s first team plays a lower division. Many of the players and players on these teams come from abroad, such as South Africa or Australia, and are used during youth training periods. As a result, English is often spoken during lessons. However, this does not appear to be a problem.
“It’s just an advantage,” says Louis Max, 11, and Emile, 10, who also dream of one day following in the footsteps of the Red Lions. “This way we not only get better at playing hockey, but also learn English. We play together on the same team at KMTHC and the season will start soon. During this training we really get some rhythm. Some kids in this camp are already playing hockey, but there are also some Children for whom this is their first time. We try to give them as many tips as possible, because it is a very interesting sport.”