Meet the Club – London Knights
From launching at the same time as the coronavirus, to fighting for the top spot in the South Eastern regional league, London Knights have certainly had a colourful first few years as a dodgeball club.
It’s easy to forget among the plethora of London clubs now – Saints, Knights, and Bottoms (yes, really) – that there was once only the mighty Storm. And back then, as the only club in the largest city in the UK, there were beginning to be issues with numbers. “Pre-pandemic the only major competitive dodgeball team in London was Storm. Because of this most players in the area flocked to play for them,” explains Knights player and exec member Rosa, who spoke to us on their behalf. “Eventually as the club grew the venue started to reach its capacity, making it difficult for competitive players to have adequate training time on top of taking on people new to the sport.”
“I worked with their [Storm’s] exec team to help create a second London team to help expand the dodgeball community. We situated ourselves about an hour from them so some players would not need to travel as far and could play with their local team, and so we would not be in any major competition for players.” The two clubs find themselves in close competition in the South Eastern league, where only Warwick Eliminated (who, yes, are technically now a London club) act as a buffer between first placed Storm and third placed Knights. Despite this, the two clubs have a healthy and positive relationship, with players from both attending trainings in either location, depending on need.
The beginning wasn’t easy. The Knights technically launched in October of 2019, though at the time there were some venue issues, as well as the usual financial issues that any new club might face. “In such a large city the availability of venues is limited because of the number of people booking halls for other activities. Those that are available are often very highly priced. To start a club you have to have the funds for equipment, kit, hall hire, and other miscellaneous expenses, which often has to be paid upfront before you generate any income from players.”
Initial setup of a club can take months, but eventually the Knights were ready. Unfortunately, this timeline now brings us to early 2020. Recruitment came to a stall. “As restrictions eased and tightened again it was hard to find any type of consistency.”
“I think everyone was happy to return to competitive play. Some of the COVID rules didn't really make sense and took some adjusting to, but the same could be said about everything surrounding the pandemic. Over the past few months though we have started to see steady growth and we are hoping this continues as we return to the new normal.”
Since the return of dodgeball, Knights have made a name for themselves as one of the strongest new teams. Their teams present a mix of experienced players who have transferred from other clubs, and plenty of talented newcomers who are eager to get out there and earn medals for their club. There are hopes to eventually start competing in national leagues as their numbers increase, but for this season they’re sticking to the regional events.
Still, with the league they’re in, there’s plenty of experienced faces to learn from. Storm 1s and 2s feature a rotating set of faces that are familiar from national league, while Eliminated (the graduate Warwick squad) is made up of Spartans, Bees, Rangers and more. Then there’s the Canterbury Crocodiles, who Knights have comfortably beaten in regional league, but who are currently fighting for promotion out of National League 3. It’s a good league to be playing in, and with Knights as one of the strongest teams in it, there’s reason to believe that they’ll be highly competitive in national league when they choose to enter.
“The best part [of starting Knights] has been meeting the new players, teaching them how to play, and watching them develop into stronger players. Watching the club become a team that can compete for medals at events has been incredible. Our biggest focus is inclusion. We want everyone to feel welcome and accepted around us. We will always be a social club first who play dodgeball for fun, but go to the pub after to build those human connections that you can't always get when you are on court.”
And I can confirm, as someone who has been dragged out to the pub by them after a regional meet, they do really mean this. Knights epitomise the best of dodgeball culture: a sociable, welcoming group of individuals, who are great dodgeballers and, more importantly, great people.
The one thing they would say to anyone interested in joining dodgeball? “I would tell them to come to any training session. Most clubs have open sessions that welcome newcomers with no commitments. We are happy to teach you the rules, coach you into becoming a better player, or at the very least you can use it as a reason to meet some friends at the pub.” Cheers to that.
Looking to kit out a new club? Or simply update those dusty, aging dodgeballs to something newer? Check out our range of club bundles and personalised dodgeballs, as well as carry bags to help bring your equipment to and from training.