Ely Vikings Korfball Club was founded during the summer of 2006 by Lee Mathews. His aim was to build a successful club to win the local Cambridgeshire league and be the best team in the area, with a huge emphasis on junior development to give the club sustainability for the future. That summer, Vikings entered into the Cambridgeshire League with two teams and played their first game on 12th October 2006 against Phoenix 2. It was a very successful first season with the teams finishing mid table and the size of the club growing.
At the start of the second season, the club had grown to four teams. This rapid growth and player development helped the 1st team finish runners-up in CKA Div 2 within two years of the club being founded. Alongside the adult teams, a Vikings Junior Section was formed with the aim of giving players the key skills and techniques to enable them to hit the ground running when they were old enough to play in the adult leagues. The 2008/09 season was the clubs best season, as they went on to win their first league title, winning CKA Div 2. Ever since then, the club has always had a team in the top division of the CKA.
Vikings continued with this momentum the following season with both the 2nd and 3rd teams winning CKA Divisions 2 and 3 respectively. Within two years of entering the Regional League, they were in Division 1 and playing one level below the Premier League. However, the step up in class was a massive learning curve which ended in relegation during the 2011/12 season. This didn’t stop Vikings as they immediately bounced back by winning the second division the following season and regaining their place in the first division.
Alongside the success of the senior side of the club, the juniors were having success of their own and showing that they would be a force to be reckoned with. The development of youth players in the club had gone better than hoped and several players were selected for the England U16 squad and went on to play in the Korfball World Cup. This has continued over the years with more players being selected by England U16 team. This extra training and development on the international stage was of a massive benefit to the club and the individuals.
This Success, from the youth of the club, led to Vikings first legitimate title challenge in the CKA which saw the club take the title fight to the final game of the season. Half of the squad for the season had started in the club’s junior section and worked and developed their way through the teams and into the first team over the past years. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be and defeat in the final game saw the club finish second. This defeat was then used to build upon and spur the club onto success the following season. This saw more players who had started in the club’s junior section become involved in the first team squad for the 2014/15 season. With an average playing age of 18yrs, the club finally met its aims from when the club was founded and went on to win the CKA Div 1 title for the first time. The emphasis on junior development had also worked with having 90% of the squad having come through the club’s junior section and through the club ranks to the first team.
The following season saw the clubs first title defence. With having such a young squad, it comes with its own challenges with continually losing players to university, but this also gives chances to others. With several big changes to the squad throughout the 2015/16 season, it made for a tricky title defence. The season came down to the final game of the season in a winner takes all game for the title. Only half of the title winning squad from the previous season were left at the club, but this didn’t stop the developing players who had earned their spot in the first team. The game went Vikings way and they won their second title during the clubs 10th anniversary season.
Hopefully, the success the club has enjoyed over its first 10 years can continue in the future, with more players going on to represent their country and the teams winning their respective divisions and CKA titles.