Many congratulations to Lizzie Morgan and Matilda Collins (both Upper Fifth), who have qualified for the Wales U16 national hockey team!
Lizzie and Matilda have both been playing hockey since they were very young. "I started playing hockey in Year 1 at Bede's Prep," Lizzie explains. "Mrs Lenham (Hockey and Cricket Coach at Bede's) was my first coach, so had a huge part to play in developing my love for the sport." Mrs Lenham also coached Matilda from Nursery age, so has seen both girls progress from beginner level to playing for an international team.
Lizzie and Matilda have seen their passion for hockey grow during their time at Bede's, with both citing the coaching, contact time and playing with their teammates as their favourite parts of the programme.
"I started playing hockey for fun, and as I have developed I've started seeing it in a more serious light," Matilda says. "Bede's has really supported me in my ambitions - you get to play a lot of the sport at a high level, with additional strength and conditioning, and you also have the opportunity to play for external clubs alongside school training and fixtures."
"There is a lot of hockey timetabled into the school week all year round," Lizzie adds. "We also get to have extra training during lunch breaks and after school on an informal basis, and enjoyed some extra sessions with Mr Dowse in the lead up to the Wales U16 qualifiers. It's a lot of fun - hockey gives you the chance to detox from your studies and provides an escape from other pressures."
The Wales U16 qualifiers have given the girls another step up. To get through to trials is in itself a brilliant achievement; for both girls to have made the team is amazing and a true testament to their talent and hard work.
"The qualifiers were a lot of fun," Lizzie comments. "We made a lot of new friends, and it was fantastic to be in a very competitive environment - the atmosphere was great. The players were all of very high calibre, which challenged me to push myself to perform at the best of my ability. It's an amazing opportunity, and I'm thrilled to have got through."
Looking ahead, both girls see hockey in their future. While Lizzie is keen to continue pursuing the sport as a hobby - "It's something I will always love to do," she says - Matilda is looking at pursuing a professional international career in the sport. "I would like to keep going and see how far I can go," Matilda explains. "I'm going to work as hard as I can and take every opportunity that comes my way."
We are delighted for Lizzie and Matilda, and can't wait to see how they progress.