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Richardson-Walsh wants to help hockey grow in London on back of Rio Olympic gold

PUBLISHED: 13:00 07 November 2017

Helen Richardson-Walsh shows the girls her gold medal (Pic: Garry Bowden)

Helen Richardson-Walsh shows the girls her gold medal (Pic: Garry Bowden)

Sport in Pictures Photo Agency (SIPPA)- c/o 66 Stanley Road North, Rainham, Essex, UK, RM13 8BJ - Editorial Use ONLY - NO UNAUT

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

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)

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 was really good, there were about 30 girls playing hockey. Most of them hadn’t played before, so getting different and more people playing hockey is nice to see,” said Richardson-Walsh.

“We’ve all had so much from playing hockey and we want to share the love a little bit.”

The project is working with multiple partners to support the development of hockey in schools, making it easy to access and Richardson-Walsh is delighted to be involved.

“I’ve got very close links with England Hockey and with the World Cup next year in London, it seemed an ideal project to be involved in,” she added.

“It was just something I really wanted to get behind, try to support and help continue to grow the game.”

The midfielder also revealed how important the project is to keep the game growing across east London and the country.

“It’s incredibly important. In particular in our state schools hockey is dying a little bit, it’s really sad to see and we need to make them opportunities more visible and more regularly available,” she said.

“If we can take hockey to the schools where it’s not necessarily thriving as much as we would like, hopefully we can spark a little more interest.”

Richardson-Walsh also believes winning gold at the 2016 Olympic Games has inspired people to get involved with the sport.

“It’s a real tangible thing that you can hold, look at and almost feel the inspiration from it, so it’s brilliant we were able to do that last year and the amount of people we’ve heard are joining clubs since is really fantastic,” she added.

“It’s nice to be able to show that gold medal off. Sometimes I think people just want to see the medal and not me! It was amazing to win it, but it’s just as precious for me to share that as well.”

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