‘I want to coach for years but let’s make his­tory first’

Ross Law­son meets an Ir­ish Olympian who’s pas­sion­ate about men­tor­ing but not ready to re­tire

The Hockey Paper - - NEWS -

COACH­ING at school and univer­sity level, as well as find­ing the time to take to the pitch ev­ery now and then, John Jack­son is keen to keep him­self busy. But while the 30-year-old Olympian is keen to pass on his ex­pe­ri­ence to the next gen­er­a­tion of tal­ent, the man him­self is far from done with just yet.

Mov­ing from Read­ing with wife Rachel, the Ire­land in­ter­na­tional has spent the sea­son with Team Bath Buc­ca­neers, with pro­mo­tion from Con­fer­ence West the aim.

But along­side that has come a plethora of other op­por­tu­ni­ties for Jack­son – also head of hockey at Prior Park Col­lege and coach of the Univer­sity of Bath’s ladies first XI, af­ter a stint as se­nior coach at Marl­bor­ough Col­lege.

A route into an off-the-field hockey ca­reer is no fluke, rather a ven­ture he has con­sid­ered for some time.

“Coach­ing is a big thing for me, that’s what I want to be do­ing for the next 20 to 30 years,” he said.

“Just be­ing around Bath and close to the main coaches, I’m get­ting a chance to learn be­fore I even get go­ing.

“As a school and univer­sity coach, look­ing af­ter peo­ple right from the start at seven years old is a re­ally good ground­ing, work­ing right the way through to in­ter­na­tional play­ers.

“It’s so im­por­tant and that spec­trum can only help me go­ing for­ward. It’s great for my life­style too; I can spend more time with the fam­ily which I hadn’t pre­vi­ously been able to do.”

But be­fore thoughts turn to hang­ing up his stick, Jack­son is con­fi­dent he can ful­fil a job with the Buc­ca­neers.

Still a prom­i­nent part of Ire­land’s plans, the de­fender boasts more than 200 caps on the in­ter­na­tional stage, some­thing he is look­ing to tap into as Bath at­tempt to make his­tory.

The club are yet to taste the Premier League but, de­spite los­ing to Cardiff & Met on the open­ing week­end, find them­selves in a good po­si­tion in Con­fer­ence West, five points be­hind with one de­feat from ten.

De­spite boast­ing bags of ex­pe­ri­ence with Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity, Read­ing and Ire­land, Jack­son is adamant there is plenty he can add to his CV.

“Bath are push­ing for promo- tion and for me that would be a nice feather in the cap,” he con­tin­ued. “I’ve been there and done play-offs, but this is a great ex­pe­ri­ence for me to try some­thing new and see where it takes me.

“I’m no spring chicken, but I’m not at the end of my ca­reer ei­ther, so while I’m still good enough I want to be push­ing.

“Bath have never been in the Premier League and I want to add my­self to that chal­lenge. That ap­peals to me a lot – it’s not all about win­ning medals, it’s also about try­ing to bridge new ground.

“We saw that with Ire­land, the Olympics were some­thing new and it’s some­thing sim­i­lar with Bath. The aim is to count my­self as one of their first Premier League play­ers and that’s a huge mo­ti­va­tion.

“Se­nior teams in Ire­land also tend to have a younger age bracket, so there are quite a lot of guys fresh out of univer­sity and that’s not too dis­sim­i­lar to Bath – I’m the old­est by about five years!”

Coach­ing has also taken Jack­son into schools, with his Olympic pedi­gree im­press­ing stu­dents – even if he didn’t re­alise it at the time. But with an abun­dance of Rio mem­o­ries to look back on, the Ir­ish­man is des­per­ate to revel in last sum­mer.

He con­tin­ued: “The amount of as­sem­blies I’ve done on the back of go­ing to Olympics has been fan­tas­tic.

“It’s only then that you re­alise what sort of im­pact you can have on peo­ple and the more value you can put on what you’ve done.

“When you’re there, you just want to fo­cus on it be­ing just an­other tour­na­ment to not be over­awed, but to have ac­tu­ally gone and rep­re­sented your coun­try is some­thing truly spe­cial.

“For me to pass on any ad­vice and share those ex­pe­ri­ences is some­thing we take in a heart­beat.”

The aim is to count my­self as one of their first Premier League play­ers

PIC­TURE: PA Images

Still got it: John Jack­son, pic­tured hold­ing off South Africa’s Tay­lor Dart dur­ing the Lon­don Cup, re­mains a prom­i­nent part of the Ire­land set-up

Men­tor: John Jack­son passes on skills at Marl­bor­ough Col­lege

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