This week, we bring our attention to Jack Leitch, 28, right-shooter and a star in the making for the UK Super League team Bury Kings. Despite not yet playing for the UK national team, Bury St. Edmunds player Jack Leitch is certainly one to watch. The 28-year-old shooter first picked up tchoukball in 2011 as a way to blow off steam on a Friday night after lectures, playing centre pivot for Portsmouth University, before that idea was laughed off by teammate Andrew Cummins.
Ahead of moving to Cambridge in 2015, Leitch was based in Exeter playing for the Farnborough Jets and only in the national league. Being able to train and play more frequently was a must when he joined Bury, which fit in perfectly with coach Ian Parker’s desire to take him under his wing and develop the right-hander into the shooter he is today.
As well as graduating with a degree in Biomedical Sciences, specialising in immunology, Leitch also has a penchant for board games - especially Dungeons & Dragons - he also has other varied interests such as food and drink tasting (fancy a whiskey anyone?). He is also a keen golfer, snowboarder and squash player. Leitch defines Tchoukball as an ‘exciting’ and ‘inspiring’ game that is coupled with a real sense of ‘community’. Some of Leitch’s favourite memories stem from EWC 2017, as it was his first tournament outside of the UK. He ‘loved everything about it’ from "the matches” to the camaraderie”. The quality of the European teams astounded and motivated him, as it highlighted "the gulf of talent between [Leitch] and the top shooters in Europe”. He wanted to "bridge that gap and stay competitive for future competitions".
The sportsmanship that occurs in tchoukball is one like no other sport. Everyone from the coaches to organisers are friendly and welcoming, players inspire you to better yourself and chat with you. Not only is that important in sport, but it sets a great example for everyday life, something that is "purely distilled in Tchoukball”. Jack still wants to see the sport grow, with more teams and players being recognised. Having games filmed with commentary and graphics help people to understand the sport better and be on the way to feeling the same excitement that the players do.
Sadly, the size of the sport is yet to change dramatically, but the quality and evolution of the game is a different story. Although the right-hander never experienced 9-a-side tchoukball, he still witnesses subtle changes to the game every time he plays. More teams are including long passes and aerials in their repertoire, shooting styles are becoming more unique and defending is "more fluid, efficient and adaptive” in order to push tchoukball to new limits.
Going in to some big games in Radevormwald, Jack will ensure he is ready by making the time for a proper stretch and warm up before any game. He notes that this isn’t the most exciting advice in the world but it is a key element to his pre-game preparation. He also notes that having Richard "Jacko” Jackson running up to all the Kings players and giving everyone high tens and shouting "Yes!” helps to fire him up. Of course, he also talks about the importance of the pre-match huddle where strategy and players are discussed and he knows what is expected of him as he goes in to the game.
For #ewc2019rade, Leitch’s personal goal is "to hold his own against top European teams” as, back in 2017, he was new to the Kings but he feels much more settled and prepared this time around. As a team, he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground with his ambitions and is hoping to place higher than 8th place. Maybe, just maybe, this is what will win over the heart of Leitch’s self-professed, and unfortunately recently-married, Ian Parker… A man can dream…