GB hockey star returns to The Perse after sealing Olympic qualification
6 Nov 2019
The Perse U14 girls’ hockey team were given a boost thanks to a special training session with Great Britain hockey ace and former student Tess Howard (2017).
Tess scored the opening goal as GB won 2-1 in the second leg of their Olympic qualifier against Chile at Lee Valley on Sunday as they booked their spot at Tokyo 2020 following a 5-1 aggregate victory.
Fresh from her international success, she returned to The Perse to put the county champions through their paces ahead of their regional qualifiers in the England Hockey national schools championships at Bedford tomorrow.
Tess, who made her full GB debut last year, ran through a range of shooting drills with the U14 team and was struck by the eagerness of the players to develop their skills.
She said: “Because I’m Perse-bred, I’ve been there in the same kit as them, so it was really nice to work with them. I was in the U14 team coached by Mr Kirkham (Perse Director of Sport), as they are, and I remember our team ended up getting to the national finals.
“They’re so coachable and that’s the mark of a good player, to have the attitude to learn. You can be as talented as you like but if you don’t believe in yourself, nothing will come from it. It was so great to see them believing in themselves and being so enthusiastic.
“There are some very talented players in the team and I have full confidence they’ll do very well in the regional rounds, especially with Mr Kirkham leading them.”
During her visit, Tess also related her experiences of the “whirlwind” she has been through since breaking into the GB squad and the realisation of the Olympics being on the horizon, with members of the Perse Elite Sports Programme.
She said: “It’s a dream come true. Having been part of the qualification games and hopefully playing my role in the team, tasting what it’s like to win something important makes me want to do it again and again.
“It’s been a whirlwind and now I want to relish the lifestyle and really go for it.”
The GB Olympic hockey squad will be named in May 2020 and Tess said nobody could rest on their laurels in the meantime.
She said: “Our captain put a message on our WhatsApp group saying ‘262 days to go, ladies’ and that made it very real that every day counts now. We have a squad of 18 currently and only 16 players are selected, so every place is up for grabs. I’m just focusing on working hard each week, but it’s all very exciting.”
Listen to Tess talk more about juggling student life with being an international hockey player below.