Hockey: Golden memories and bright futures

    SHOT AT GLORY Crista Cullen proves a big hit with the young hockey hopefuls

    CRISTA CULLEN, a member of the unbeaten squad who triumphed at the Rio Olympics last summer, came to the independent girls’ school to open the Astro Pitch facility.
    She met Georgia Whitaker, a year 11 student and Tunbridge Wells Hockey Club player who has been recently selected for the England Under-16s training squad.
    The GB team won gold for the first time in August, beating the Netherlands in the final after a dramatic penalty shootout.
    Susannah Townsend, who grew up in Sevenoaks, was part of the triumphant side and was at Sutton Valence School with Ashley Jackson of the GB men’s team, while Sophie Bray and Laura Unsworth both play for East Grinstead.
    The team narrowly missed out on the BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year award after being pipped by the Premier League champions Leicester City.
    One of the best defenders in the world, Crista retired after the London Games, where the team won bronze, but made a comeback two years ago.
    Having learned the game while growing up in Kenya, she has earned 185 international caps and scored 56 goals for England and Great Britain.
    The 31-year-old led a coaching session for the school’s senior players and then spoke about her journey to the London and Rio Olympics.
    Headmistress Julie Lodrick said: “I am delighted Crista Cullen visited us to open our new pitch and our girls have had the opportunity to train with one of the country’s leading sportswomen.
    “At Kent College, we provide our girls with personalised training and development to help them become the best sportswomen they can be.”
    The player-coach of the Tunbridge Wells Men’s 1st XI, Ben Allberry, who teaches PE at the school, will now be in charge of the school’s hockey teams.
    Director of Sport Sam Clark said: “The new pitch and the recent appointment of Mr Allberry as Head of Hockey is a very clear indication that signals our intent to become a leading hockey school.
    “We now have the facility to allow all our girls to experience hockey as it should be played and I am confident that we will see more girls following in the footsteps of Georgia Whitaker and her England achievements.”