The 2016 Olympics in Rio has churned 100s of inspiring stories over the past few weeks, where Olympians have showed true grace and sportsmanship in many events that proves heroic to fans across the globe. However, the story I want to focus on is the hockey. Where a nation was inspired overnight.
As a keen hockey player myself, who’s been playing at grass roots level since I was 11, I’ve played for three clubs and Lancaster University, and there’s no point narrating how influential the people who have been a part of my hockey ‘career’ are to me. Everyone who is a member of the sport echo the same ethos and message: that your hockey team eventually becomes your hockey family. This was perfectly exemplified over the past couple of weeks at the Rio Olympics, where the Team GB girls defied the odds, becoming world class gold Olympians. Yes, the have extreme talent, they work at blistering pace in order to out-perform their opposition, and their diets are scientifically fashioned to the gram for optimum results, however, I think what really gave the edge, was the incredible friendship and love that is the foundation of this truly special team.
Although the facts speak for themselves, that Team GB girls launched themselves unbeaten out of their group, and leaving the tournament undefeated with the ultimate prize gleaming proudly around their necks, but the question remains: what will this do to hockey at home?
After Hollie Webb nestled that final shuttle into the back of the net and I finally stopped screaming, jumping around the living room from floor to sofa, my social media went hockey mad. A flourish of statuses ripped across Facebook, overwhelming messages of congratulations and celebrations for the team, but not just that, the pride that emanated from so many people because they are a part of this wonderful sport already. Not just that, many clubs took to their pages to start the recruit, with friends noting down how they’d like to become involved and are excited to have a piece of the action. How refreshing compared to the usual ‘oh, you must be mad to play hockey’. No, I’m mad for it.
The benefits, not only health wise, but social too, 100% out shines any negatives. Being part of a team gives you a sense of purpose, a sense of pride, a sense of belonging – invaluable. One main thing that you will achieve through hockey is honing ‘grit’. What is grit I hear you ask? No, not that pebble like stone you get stuck in your shoe sometimes, but that sheer determination to overcome the toughest of obstacles in order to achieve your goal. It’s something that is inside all of us, and hockey helps you unleash it, which in turn, will transpire to help in all aspects of life, whether it’s hard times, to work matters or family and friend woes. Grit allows you to burst through those obstacles into a better ‘you’.
Personally, I believe that each and every member of the Team GB ladies showed grit from the first minute of the first group game to that very last penalty shuffle. Kate Richardson-Walsh is grit personified. Just look at the stats below – not many sporting athletes can say that, and she is a hero to girls in all sports, not just hockey. To overcome trials and tribulations over the years to retire winning an Olympic Gold just shows you what courage, determination and utter grit will get you.
Thank you Team GB Ladies Hockey – you have inspired a nation overnight, and that inspiration will continue to course through the veins of the country for a lifetime.
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