Nathan Ablitt is one big step nearer fulfilling his dream of becoming a fully fledged Eastbourne Eagle.
He’s the latest name on the roster for the club’s National Development League (NDL) team, the Eastbourne Seagulls, powered by Save Thurrock Hammers.
Nathan, who lives in Hailsham, five minutes from Arlington Stadium, said it was something of a “no brainer’ when offered the chance to join the NDL team.
He signed for Eastbourne in August last year, having the previous month been part of an Eagles squad testing and practising at King’s Lynn in a behind-closed-doors session.
Ablitt said: “I am delighted to be part of the team.
“Growing up watching Eastbourne and then getting a chance to ride for them, it was a bit of a no brainer.
“Hopefully I can learn this year and progress so in coming years I can move up and become a full-time Eastbourne rider.”
Ablitt said he was looking to a “solid, consistent year” with no injuries to give himself the opportunity to progress and move up the ranks.
“If I can prove myself in the early part of the year, hopefully I will start getting some rides in the Championship towards the end of the season,” he said.
Ablitt said he was ready to race and had been training to get fit throughout the winter.
Ablitt, 17, expects to be picking up the threads of his college course at Bexhill in the next few days.
Eastbourne Director, Ian Jordan, said: “It will be great to see Nathan riding for the team he has always supported and that will resonate with all of our supporters and other young lads like Vinnie Joe Foord, whose turn will soon come too.
“Nathan will start at reserve on a 3 point average because he didn’t quite achieve enough matches in 2019 to achieve an average whilst riding for Kent in the NDL, before a severe concussion ultimately curtailed his season.
“The Covid-19 forced break may turn out to be a blessing in disguise in a way, as it has given Nathan time to fully heal and practise when he can, and he’ll be stepping up his practise and track time, before the competitive season starts.
“There will be no pressure on Nathan, we know that he is a fantastic long-term prospect, let’s not forget that he was the equal and comparable of two outstanding prospects in Dan Gilkes and Jordan Palin at MSDL and Youth level.
“We want him to aspire to that level and beyond again and believe he can but time, loyalty and patience are fundamental to youth development.
“The 35-point team building limit places an emphasis on top-end strength and powerful options at reserve.
“It’s hard to find a more potent reserve option than we hope Nathan can become before moving up the pecking order.”
“We’d like to thank Mildenhall, whom Nathan was due to join in 2020, for agreeing that Nathan would spend 2021 at his home Club where he is an asset.
“We are equally delighted to allow Jason Edwards, who is also an Eagles asset and an integral part of our Championship Team, to re-join Mildenhall for the 2021 NDL season to honour our commitment to both Jason and Mildenhall from 2020, that he could so.
“It will be of great benefit to Jason, Mildenhall and Eastbourne that Jason can continue his exceptional progress in the Sport in this way.”
The NDL Fixtures have been released today and can be see here.
Tickets are selling quickly for both the Newcastle Championship & NDL Double Header (Sat 22nd May – 5pm) and the Poole South Coast Derby Championship clash (Sat 29th May – 7.30pm) and supporters are advised to purchase as soon as they can to avoid disappointment.
The matches in May are likely to be the most restricted of the season in terms of Crowd limits imposed by Local Authority and National Restrictions. Entrance is via advance ticket only due to Covid-19 restrictions, please click on the related meeting image below to purchase.
Please note: existing 2020 Season and 10 Match Ticket Holders do not need to pre-book – please just turn up with your 2020 Season Ticket or 10 Match Pass and go to the dedicated ST/10 Match Turnstile (which will be clearly marked)
Image credit: Mike Hinves.