‘Juniors need to watch the 1s to make league hockey inspirational’

Kate Richardson-Walsh

Kate Richardson-Walsh, left, watches on with Sarah Kelleher PIC: Mark Clews

Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh both enjoyed meteoric international careers, their grounding established in domestic hockey before the introduction of the full-time programme. In a wide-ranging conversation with THP, the gold medal-winning couple dissect the future of the club game

What is the league’s future?

Kate: Because of history and tradition, in society men have earned money in days gone by and women didn’t go into business, those men have then put money into the sport they love. If it was hockey, they would often, not at every club, put it into the men’s section. It was the old boys’ network. It’s a question whether that will shift due to society changes as women are now earning. Lots of clubs are now propped up by rich benefactors. What happens when that dries up?

We need to find a new way, our way, and establish the objectives. What do we need to get out of club hockey at participation and elite level? We need to get a buy in from clubs and the national associations. The purpose now is so disjointed … we want a national team to compete for medals, or to grow participation in the area, or 500 people down in the bar on a Saturday. We need to all get on the same page.

Helen: There’s certainly a disconnect between the juniors and the first team and it’s something I’ve spoken about at Cambridge City. This is something we can take from the Dutch, the juniors have grown up looking at the 1s and there isn’t that same inspiration here. Coming at it from the grassroots is absolutely fundamental to the success of the national league.




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