Jackson inspires players at Lee Valley Schools Festival

Jackson takes on the schools festival players at LVHTC

Hundreds of young people took part in the two-day Lee Valley Hockey Schools Festival and met their GB hero Ashley Jackson, who made a surprise guest appearance.

The students from schools in London, Essex and Hertfordshire played a mini inter-school tournament as part of the event and had the opportunity to meet Ashley, who is the all-time leading scorer with over 130 goals and an extraordinary 234 international caps, who has recently returned from Rio de Janeiro after competing in his third Olympic Games.

Ashley hosted a questions and answers session, where the children gave him a grilling on his hockey career, asking questions such as how much he is paid and what he thought of the Rio Olympic Games. They were amazed to learn that they were playing on the same pitch that Ashley and the national team play on during major international competitions such as this year’s Hockey Champions Trophy. He then followed the session with a demonstration of his tackling and dribbling skills, together with some of the children.

Commenting on the event, Ashley said: “It’s great to be back at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre and to see so many young people taking part at the schools festival. The event offers young people a chance to play on the same pitch where I and the GB and England teams play and is a perfect introduction to this exciting sport.

“Hockey is my passion and I hope that the youngsters will leave today’s event fired up and inspired to continue to play. And we may even see some of them represent our country in the future!”

The schools festival, which was organised by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, gave the 11 to 13-year-olds the chance to follow hot on the heels of the success of Team GB’s women’s hockey team in Rio.

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority’s Chairman, Paul Osborn said: “It’s great to see so many young people keen to play this fast-paced sport. The Hockey Schools Festival is a terrific success with young people inspired and fired up by Team GB women’s team winning gold at Rio 2016.

“We offer young people an opportunity to play on the same pitch where top players like Ashley Jackson compete in major international tournaments such as this year’s Champions’ Trophy. As the sport’s most impressive UK venue, I’m proud that we offer at our world class venues professional and international events, while at the same time providing a welcoming and nurturing environment for the community at grassroots level.”

The two-day Schools Festival was a celebration of hockey and part of the commitment made by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority to deliver a sustainable legacy, following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The event follows popular and successful events held earlier this year, where students from across the region participated in watersports at Lee Valley White Water Centre and cycling at Lee Valley VeloPark.

Founded in 2011 and funded by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, the Schools Festival programme has welcomed more than 5,000 children from across every London borough and all districts of Essex and Hertfordshire to its three inspirational London 2012 venues for free.

The Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre will be hosting another world class hockey event in 2017 as the men's Hockey World League semi-final comes to London. Tickets and details here.

For more information on the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre visit their website.