England: International Women’s Day – Crackles supports the next generation of players

With this International Women’s Day being all about inspiring inclusion, it is important that the upcoming generation of athletes has the facilities to be their best and are included in opportunities no matter their background. 


The Hockey Mentors Project is a non-profit organisation which aims to help all players aged 13-18 reach their full potential. Founded in 2021, the project has a long-term vision of having a significant impact within hockey by the 2028 Olympics. 


Fiona Crackles, 24-year-old midfielder for England and Great Britain, is one of many senior players who have become involved. We spoke to Crackles who explained that she mentors groups consisting of junior performance players from state schools and ethnic minorities.   


“I often speak to the U16 girls about how they can be their best at trials and camps, managing injuries and just generally helping them balance life and hockey when at school, because it’s tough! It’s something I’d have loved to be a part of growing up.” 


Her reasons for joining the project as a mentor included the programme’s aims of helping junior performance players fulfil their potential whilst also breaking down the stereotypes within hockey, making it more accessible and of higher quality.  


Crackles herself did not have a mentor in the early stages of her career but highlighted that she had a lot of role models both inside and outside of the hockey industry including athletes who appeared to work extremely hard and those who generally got stuck in.  


Despite not having one herself, the England midfielder believes that having a mentor does come with benefits and said:  


“I’d hope they enjoy having someone to speak and ask questions to. Often, it’s nothing groundbreaking but sometimes a bit of reassurance and feeling a situation is relatable is all that’s needed.” 


With the Hockey Mentors Project having an emphasis on helping those aged 13-18, Crackles spoke upon how being represent in hockey is important for the younger generation and their likelihood of participating in the sport long term.:  


“I think it’s just instilling the belief that anyone can make it if you put a shift in and want it,” Crackles said. “Hopefully by seeing similar people within the senior environment makes it look more feasible regardless of schooling or background.  


“I hope it will help maintain and promote their engagement within hockey but overall just keeping young people healthy and happy in whatever sport or physical activity is also a win.” 


Currently playing for Wimbledon HC at club level, Crackles revealed that she wished she could remind herself that progress is not linear. Additionally, she would tell her younger self to spend less time-wasting energy on comparing her abilities to that of others whilst reminding herself of her strengths and focusing on those.  


Following what she would tell her younger self, Crackles gave a piece of advice to the upcoming generation of female hockey players.  


“To work hard, enjoy yourself and learn from each other,” Crackles concluded. “Coaches, teammates, opposition there’s always opportunities to learn new skills and improve”. 

by England Hockeyl

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