Emma surprised schoolchildren at Thorpe Hall Primary School in Walthamstow, East London, joining a hockey session alongside Rio 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Helen Richardson-Walsh MBE and Commonwealth & European medallist Emily Defroand.
Hockey Futures is a new charity whose mission is To create a nation where every young person can play hockey. The charity will partner with clubs to create outreach programmes that connect with young people through schools and community organisations up and down the country. With the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup starting in London on Saturday 21 July, England Hockey are using the event as a platform to help launch the charity.
Emma – who played hockey for Rover Oxford as a youngster and also at Brown University – joined in with twenty children in a session delivered by coaches from Waltham Forest Hockey Club.
Emma said, “Hockey was a big part of my life growing up and I’m thrilled that England Hockey are committed to making the sport more accessible to children all over the country through the launch of Hockey Futures. Hockey is the nation’s most gender equal sport and it was fantastic to visit a Hockey Futures session at Thorpe Hall Primary School and see children playing together, learning new skills – and teaching me some new hockey tricks too!
“This is such an exciting time for hockey in England, with London hosting the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup this month.All the England games are already sold out, and I hope that the event will draw more young people to the sport.
“It’s a really important opportunity to celebrate leading sports women from all over the world and I wish all the players every success in their games.”
Helen Richardson-Walsh is an ambassador for Hockey Futures, and Essex-born Emily Defroand is an ambassador for England Hockey’s work in East London in conjunction with Sport England, and they helped guide Emma through a Quicksticks session at Thorpe Hall’s sports facilities.
Helen said, “It was great to be part of the event alongside Emma, Emily and of course the schoolchildren! Hockey is an amazing inclusive sport and it is so important that we help create as many opportunities as we can for youngsters to play, wherever they live. Throughout my career and since Rio I’ve seen first hand how powerful sport can be at grass roots, and long may it continue through Hockey Futures. Fundraising is now key and as an ambassador for the charity I will be doing all I can to help share its message.”
Emily added, “It was a fantastic event and I’m happy to admit it was an amazing surprise for everyone in the room that Emma was able to join us. She is a brilliant role model and to have her support is very, very powerful. With my roots in Essex, I am very proud of hockey in this part of the world and I really believe Hockey Futures can make a significant difference for the long term, helping as many young people as possible to play our sport. With the world cup starting soon, hockey has a great platform to keep growing.”
Helen, Emily and Emma also helped gift the school with 100 free tickets for a world cup session, while Helen and Emily presented Emma with a signed shirt from the England women’s world cup squad. The world cup runs from July 21 to August 5 at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and this will form the start of Hockey Futures’ public campaign to raise £1m before the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo.
About Hockey Futures
Hockey Futures is a registered independent charity with the vision To Create a Nation Where Every Young Person Can Play Hockey. The charity works with hockey clubs to create outreach programmes to connect with young people through schools and community organisations. It aims to encourage hockey for all with particular emphasis on inner city neighbourhoods, helping young people improve their life skills, allowing them to positively develop.