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Go for gold, Olympian tells young hockey players

Published on 19/10/17

Young hockey players from schools in Norfolk and Suffolk have been coached by one of the British Olympic team’s star players.

Helen Richardson-Walsh, who won gold with Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympics, shared her tips for sporting success with over 100 students at an inter-school hockey tournament held at The Hewett Academy, Norwich, on Wednesday, October 18.

The students from The Hewett Academy, Jane Austen College, and Notre Dame High School in Norwich; Cromer Academy; Wayland Academy in Watton; and East Point Academy in Lowestoft enjoyed team pep talks from Helen to improve their skills before facing each other on the school’s astro pitches.

The tournament was umpired by young hockey leaders, students who gained official accreditation in the England Hockey Leadership Award scheme run at The Hewett Academy in the summer.

Helen spoke to the students about her hockey journey, which started when she joined her school hockey club in Nottingham, and how dedication and commitment helped her to reach her goals.

She told students: “We can’t all be good at everything, but we’re all good at something.

“You have to work out what it is that you’re good at, and follow it to the best of your ability.”

Helen made her international debut in 1999 at the age of 17, and in 2000 became the youngest female hockey player to represent Great Britain at the Olympics.

She faced a huge challenge when she suffered a major back injury after the London 2012 Games, but fought her way back to fitness and went on to score the winning penalty in the women’s hockey final at Rio.

She said her team’s medal victory was “an amazing moment – we’d set our sights on a goal and achieved it as a team, which made it very special.”

Helen was visiting the schools tournament on behalf of England Hockey, the sport’s national governing body, which hopes to build on the British team’s success by encouraging more young people to play regularly and join their local clubs.

She said: “Hockey has something for everyone – people of any age, and all shapes and sizes, can enjoy playing it.

“It helps to build physical skills and tactical thinking, as well as teamwork, communication, and leadership. And it’s great fun to play with your friends.”

John Vincent, vice principal at The Hewett Academy, said: “It was a huge privilege to welcome such a distinguished guest to our school, and to see so many students from across the region making the most of our fantastic facilities.

“The students found training with Helen really inspiring, and have picked up lots of pro tips to improve their game.”