Rio Ramblings & Role Models

“It is just one month since the Rio 2016 Olympic Ceremony took place, and what an exciting month it has been in the world of sport.” Says Holcombe HC’s Director of Hockey Jon Rye.

Having worked for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games for three years, I gained the greatest insight into the organisation of an Olympic and Paralympic Games one could ever ask for – an opportunity to inspire the next generation by being part of the Education Team and leading the engagement of schools and young people.  Four years on, the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games was never going to be like London, nor would Team GB match the medal haul of our home Games (so they said), and I watched during many ‘early morning’ hours with a different, enlightened perspective.

Holcombe Hockey Club is proud to say that twelve of our players represented their country at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.  Seven male players returned home disappointed and frustrated with their results, but have a renewed enthusiasm and drive for success on the international stage.  Stephane Vehrle-Smith, an #incredibleholc since an early age, represented Team Brazil in a home Games and became an Olympic HistoryMaker by scoring the country’s first ever Olympic Hockey goal.

For the first time ever, Team GB reached an Olympic Women’s Hockey Final.  The result… a gold for Team GB; an elated nation; 31 new sporting role-models; the sport’s profile raised amongst the general public, businesses and celebrities; and the national media going crazy with BBC News delayed by 90 minutes and front page headlines on national newspapers for several days.

Four members of Holcombe HC became Olympic Gold Medallists that evening and their lives changed forever.  Maddie Hinch, Nicola White, Shona McCallin, and Sam Quek became household names and the content of much news and many social media streams.

As our club’s winter season gets underway, I know that the buzz surrounding the Olympic Games for Hockey will continue.  We have already received a number of enquiries from players wishing to play senior Hockey at Holcombe Park, including one enquiry received during the Olympic Women’s Hockey Final itself.

Holcombe Hockey Club prides itself on providing a home for hockey, and being an extended family to our members.  Our Junior section begins on Sunday morning at 0930 and I hope to see many more smiling young faces who have been inspired to take up our sport, and the smiling young faces who adorned our pitch last season to return with renewed enthusiasm that they are part of the Hockey Family.

All of our Olympians are role-models, with or without a medal, and so are our Committee Members, umpires, captains, coaches, parental team managers, other volunteers and players.

One of my favourite humorous media clippings throughout the post-Olympic-Gold-rush came from Rachel Johnson of the Daily Mail and she wrote, “Team GB’s women’s hockey players proved conclusively what we knew all along: the England football team is made up of mostly big girls’ blouses, diving and writhing at any contact, blubbing like babies, and worst for national pride, always losing on penalties.

But late on Friday night, along came Maddie Hinch (aka ‘

Mad Dog’, the most ballsy goalie I’ve ever seen in action). Along came Nicola White, who scored against the so-called ‘best women’s hockey team on the planet’ to level the final against the Netherlands at 3-3. Finally, along came Hollie Webb, all bobbing blonde ponytail and scissoring, streaking legs, a blaze in red, to clinch victory for Hinch and the gang.

Jessica Ennis Hill tweeted ‘WOW’ as our hockey players nabbed Team GB’s 24th gold of the Games. So yes, if you want to win a big match on penalties, don’t ask a bloke. They can’t seem to put it in the back of the net for toffee, even though football penalty is a sitter compared to one in hockey – here the shooter and the goalie scrabble and tussle and wrestle in front of a tiny goal until one of them loses.

Don’t ask a bloke if you’re going for gold. Ask a highly trained band of competitive sisters who are doing it for Team GB. Just WOW.

Good luck for the forthcoming season, and thank you for being one of our #incredibleholcs

Many thanks, Jon Rye (Co-Chairman and Director of Hockey)

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