England may have fallen short in their pursuit of glory at the recent Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup, but the numbers of people playing the sport continues to grow.
Ever since England Women captured Olympic gold two years ago, more than 10,000 new players have picked up a stick.
The seemingly bright future was a theme developed by England Hockey over the course of the London-hosted competition, culminating in hockey clubs nominating inspirational young leaders to join the governing body at the World Cup for a day of discussion around the future of the sport and to seek ideas on how to move things further forward in a positive way.
And Harleston Magpies had two of their members involved in the day, namely Seth Read and Julie Davy.
Both had been nominated by the club for their voluntary contributions to the sport through training younger players.
Alongside their own training commitments and studies, the duo assist on a weekly basis with coaching of the Magpies’ Under-10 age groups and are developing their coaching qualifications through the England Hockey system.
They were part of a 90-strong group of young leaders who were treated to a question and answer session with Rio Olympic gold medalist Helen Richardson-Walsh, who is also a Team GB and Hockey Futures initiative ambassador.
She inspired all with a description of her Olympic experiences and explained her current involvement developing the sport for young people, particularly those with disability.
The experience was wrapped up with an evening of hockey, watching the first of the World Cup knock-out rounds as Spain beat Belgium on a penalty shoot-out and Argentina demonstrated the strength of South American hockey with a 2-0 win over New Zealand to reach the quarter-finals.
Reflecting on the event, Read said: “I really enjoyed the day and found it very helpful in terms of what I can do to develop as a coach.
“It was nice to contribute towards a national hockey development plan as well as meeting two England international players as well as several important English hockey officials.”