City Hub leads the way in chan­nel­ing Rio legacy

The Hockey Paper - - FEATURE -

THE Cam­bridge Pri­mary Schools Hub is the brain­child of Andy Richard­son, brother of He­len Richard­son-Walsh, so the Cam­bridge City Hockey Club chair­man had no hes­i­ta­tion in pulling in some fam­ily favours when he asked his sis­ter and her wife, Kate Richard­sonWalsh, to visit the city to launch the ini­tia­tive.

Cam­bridge City HC hold ju­nior ses­sions on Sun­day morn­ings and, while 300 chil­dren at­tend the al­ready over-sub­scribed club, there are still many, many chil­dren who miss out be­cause they can’t get there or have other com­mit­ments at that time.

Andy Richard­son’s idea is to cre­ate five hubs around the city, where five sec­ondary schools run af­ter-school clubs that the pri­mary schools feed into. In turn, the pupils will be chan­neled to­wards one of the city’s three hockey clubs once they reach the ap­pro­pri­ate age or level of abil­ity. The Perse School is the first to take up the ini-

tia­tive, with seven feeder pri­mary schools send­ing pupils to the af­ter-school club, which is run through­out the year by The Perse School’s hockey staff and a team of 18-20 sixth-for­m­ers. Dan Cross, se­nior deputy head at the school and a for­mer in­ter­na­tional hockey player, is de­lighted the school is lead­ing the way: “We are lucky to be in a po­si­tion to be able to do some­thing spe­cial on the back of London and Rio. We have a strong hockey his­tory and we have three in­ter­na­tional play­ers on our coach­ing staff, plus Glenn Kirkham [for­mer Great Bri­tain cap­tain] is re­turn­ing as di­rec­tor of sport. With a new, sec­ond, flood­lit as­tro­turf and an es­tab­lished net­work of pri­mary school links, this seems the per­fect way to keep the Olympic legacy go­ing.”

Kate Richard­son-Walsh said: “What is be­ing done in Cam­bridge is a fan­tas­tic thing. They are get­ting five hub ar­eas that work with clubs so that kids have an easy op­por­tu­nity to get to hockey.

“Times and money are tight, so to give kids ac­cess to hockey within a nor­mal work­ing day and then giv­ing them a path­way to a club, that is the first step into the hockey fam­ily. We all know what a great thing it is for a young player to join a club and get to play along­side all sorts of dif­fer­ent peo­ple. But, we also know it has to be the norm from an early age. By get­ting school kids to go to clubs from an early age will in­stil a habit for life.”

“This is crazy,” said one par­ent whose daugh­ter is at Queen Edith’s Pri­mary School. “My daugh­ter is hockey mad and here she is meet­ing two Olympic gold medal­lists. We are just a state school, things like this don’t hap­pen. Like she needed any­more mo­ti­va­tion! I think I might have quite a few years ahead stand­ing on the edge of a hockey pitch.”

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