Perse students to join England hockey team
Tess Howard, 16, and Zaman Akhter, 15, have been selected to represent their country in the girls’ and boys’ national U16 hockey squads.
The Cambridge City Hockey Club (CCHC) players are both pupils at The Perse School. They were invited to Lilleshall for assessment following a strong performance in last year’s Futures Cup, designed to identify the crème de la crème of up and coming hockey talent, and hope to play competitively for their country very soon.
In response to her selection, Tess said: “When I first started playing hockey, I dreamt of one day playing for England. After a long journey, it feels incredible to have caught my dream. I wear my England jacket with such pride and look forward to what lies ahead this season. Thank you to all those who have supported me.”
Congratulating Tess on the call-up Ross Hayward, ladies’ 1st XI coach at CCHC said: “Tess has proved herself to be an excellent player within the club’s first team, regularly showing exciting attacking skills and electric pace during matches. This selection is great reward for the hard work she has put in to improve her all round game. Tess has risen rapidly through our ranks to join the first team at the start of last year. We work closely in partnership with The Perse to ensure she receives excellent coaching and opportunities to compete both at the school and club. The school has shown real commitment by prioritising her personal development ensuring she plays in club first team matches on Saturdays, over the schools demanding fixture list.”
Mike Mitcham, the CCJHC U16 boys coach, offered his reaction to Zaman’s news: “Last year Zaman played for CCJHC U16 boys a year young at the National finals held at Wakefield HC. We came third and Zaman was an integral part of our defence and played exceptionally well. He thoroughly deserves his inclusion in the England U16 squad”. Zaman, who described the call-up as ‘a dream come true’, said: I’d like to thank The Perse and CCJHC for helping me on this journey.”
The Perse has set about creating an environment of success and achievement within the school for elite performers, to help them reach their full potential in their sport. When a student is selected to join the Elite Sport Programme, they work closely with a mentor, have access to international standard testing facilities, receive supervision and evaluation of their training schedules and have the chance to learn from experts in sports science on topics such as diet, psychology, training methods, injury prevention and time management. The School works very closely with CCHC to help its students realise their ambitions of playing hockey at the highest level.
CCHC Ladies 1st XI is currently top of the East Women’s Premier league, while CCJHC U16 boys reached the regional finals of the EHB U16 National Championship. The Perse School’s girls’ U16 indoor hockey team, which Tess captains, finished runners-up in this year’s EHB National Schools Indoor Hockey Competition. The U16 boys also made it to the national finals, missing out on a place in the semi-finals. Captain Zaman finished their tournament as top scorer.