***This is not a sponsored post – though I was appreciative of coming home with my own hockey stick, ball, shin pads and bag which was lovely and unexpected. All opinions are my own***
So on Tuesday 7th, November England Hockey announced that Vitality UK is to be their official Wellness Partner, and I was extremely lucky to be part of the launch event along with the lovely Lucy and terrific Tess, which took place at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park!
I had never played hockey or even held a proper hockey stick until this event, as my secondary school was a lacrosse school, so this was exciting and terrifying in equal measure.
Not only were we getting to learn some hockey skills, they were being taught to us by members of the Women and Men’s England Hockey teams – so not much pressure there then! Lol! But it was just amazing and so much fun, and I was just so relieved that I did manage to hit the ball. We got to meet Laura Unsworth, Giselle Ansley, Sarah Haycroft, Phil Roper, Adam Dixon and Henry Weir.
It was such a pleasure to meet them all and learn some of the basic skills, even though my challenge for #WomenInSport campaign is going to be football, it was a brilliant opportunity to experience another team sport and to see what else is out there, even though it was something I had never done before.
I learnt that hockey is a predominantly left-handed game – the left-hand does all the work with the hockey stick and the right hand is merely there for support. We learnt to pass, dribble and shoot. Also, we learnt how to stand to prevent your back from aching – I was actually at a minor disadvantage as I am tall, but that wouldn’t stop me!
I had so much fun and am so grateful for being able to take part. After the skills activities, we were able to have a chat with the lovely hockey ladies and get their insight into being part of a women’s team and what it means to them, here are a few snippets from what we spoke about, these aren’t just my questions, this also includes those from Lucy and Tess too…
Tips for a complete newbie, when joining a team – what to do if they’re quite clicky?
“To be honest, the very first time I started playing hockey at a club, obviously I was about 10 years old, didn’t really know anybody just went down, to start with they were like “just get into partners” so literally was like to the girl next me “ok lets go in partners” – and she’s my bridesmaid, getting married next year so literally you can just make friends for life – just by starting off in pairs doing a pushing practice. So I think just get involved, and immerse yourself in it you could make some friends for life.”
“I think the beauty of hockey though is that no one actually takes themselves that seriously, so it’s easy to have a joke, you know everyone is actually really friendly. I think coming into the GB squad we were quite young you are quite “oh my god there are some people there that have been there for ages” but everyone is so friendly that actually everyone just gets on and everyone just wants to find out about other people so I don’t think you’ll have a problem at all”
Do you think by being in a team it helps your social side of life as well?
Definitely – I think getting involved in a team sport, definitely that is crucial, you just learn how to interact with people, you can meet people you might not necessarily speak to if you weren’t on the pitch. Then you realise you’ve actually got a lot more in common with them and you might actually want to go for lunch with them – lots of little things. You can make some different friends to what you might have necessarily got from school or work.
I think for me as well, being part of the team is one of the things I love the most about the sport. Just being able to share things with your teammates, everything that you go through is made that much better because you’re doing it with your friends. I think if I did a solo sport, I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much…
“I think we’d all be rubbish because you’d have no one to talk to. We’re a load of chatterboxes – in an individual sport I don’t know who’d we’d chat to.”
“We do a lot of talking”
All three laughed!
Do you think sport also really helps your mental wellbeing as well?
Laura, Giselle and Sarah:
Unanimous – “Definitely”
“It just another reason, I’m not happier than when I’m running around doing some sort of activity, be it hockey – which is obviously the one I do mainly, but any physical activity, and doing it with, ultimately, some of your best mates so you can have a laugh and smiling all the time, I spend most of my time smiling, I think that’s really really important.”
“I think it’s really important for people who have really busy work lives if you’re in an office all day you can, just to be able to get outside and get some fresh air and to be able to exercise – even that from a wellbeing point of view is so important.”
Are there times when you don’t want to go? How do you motivate yourself?
“Yeah, that’s quite a good point, there’s many a time I wake up and I look outside the window and it’s absolutely pouring down and I’m like “oh no, we’re outdoors all day, I don’t want to go” but I think that’s where the beauty of the team comes in because you know that the teammate next to you, they’re going to be up for it so you can feed off them. I know if I’m having a little bit of a session where I know I need a little bit more motivation I’ll surround myself with people that I know that can give me that energy – one of the great reason for being in a team.
“I think that everyone has those days on different times, everyone will go through those points where they’re absolutely exhausted or they’re really struggling or at selection, where everyone’s that little bit nervous, you’re going to find out if you’re going to a tournament tomorrow but you know some people might not go – the team is what gets you through.
Also knowing what you’re aiming at before, bit it that you’re aiming for Olympics, aiming for the World Cup, or even if you’re just aiming to get that bit fitter it’s those goals that are, ultimately, going to keep you turning up every day.”
What do you think Gold did for hockey as a sport and just generally getting people into it?
“Lots! Hockey is being spoken about now, people want to come and watch it, they know names of people in the team but most importantly it’s got more people involved from grassroots level right up to people coming back into hockey like you said [Lucy], you haven’t played since school and now you’re coming in, you want to join in and pick up a stick again and I think that’s what’s most important for us, that we’ve got more people picking up a stick, getting involved and wanting to share in what we do.”
I’m so thankful to have spent time with these amazingly inspirational ladies (and gents) and you can see the benefits of being in a team…
Helps improve motivation
You can have a laugh
Make new friends/lifelong friends
Gets you active
And so many other reasons – so what are you waiting for? Go to the Vitality site and see if you can find the team for you!
Do you already belong to a team? What does it mean to you? 🙂 xxx