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England hockey star Emily Defroand wants to help promote hockey in east London

PUBLISHED: 14:00 08 November 2017

Helen Richardson-Walsh (far right) and Emily Defroand (second right) speak to the girls from the academy during a training session (Pic: Garry Bowden)

Helen Richardson-Walsh (far right) and Emily Defroand (second right) speak to the girls from the academy during a training session (Pic: Garry Bowden)

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Current Great Britain and England player Emily Defroand and Rio Olympic gold medalist Helen Richardson-Walsh are to be the face of a new East London hockey project in the build-up to the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup.

The pair will be getting involved in a wide range of activities to inspire the younger generation to get involved with hockey.

And they visited Walthamstow Academy, home of Walthamstow Hockey Club and Forest Flyers, to give a lesson to a group of youngsters last Friday.

“It’s a project put together by England Hockey, so it’s basically for the next four years to try raising the awareness and getting more exposure to the sport, and to try getting as many people involved as possible.

“We’re very fortunate that we’ve got some financial backing behind us and they’re hoping to put in as much community and school activities as possible in east London to get more people involved.”

The hockey World Cup will be taking place in Stratford in the summer of 2018 and the former Coopers Pupil believes it’s vital to use that to help promote the sport.

“It’s huge, I’m a local girl, I’ve grown up in Hornchurch and I’ve seen first hand there is the opportunity to play hockey in east London.

“There is countless clubs that people can join, if they’re not involved in the sport already and the people that are in the clubs, it’s just brilliant to have an event like the World Cup coming to our home city.

“This is the time to take advantage of that and get more people involved in our sport.

“The best teams in the whole world will be coming to play at the Olympic Park in east London and it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of that and increase the exposure of hockey.”

The Havering hockey ace admits it was great to run a training session for a group of youngsters at the Academy.

“It’s brilliant, it’s so rewarding coming to schools like this, as I said I grew up nearby and coming back here it just brings back all the memories of when I used to play hockey at school.

“If we can just inspire more people to pick up a hockey stick, whether it’s in these schools, whether it’s outside or grown men and women joining clubs it’s great.

“The more people involved the better as it’s just a fantastic sport to be involved in.

“It’s got a great social side to it, it’s an exciting fast game and the aim is to get more people playing.”

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