In the second part of the series, England’s Darcy Bourne on why she is supporting the non-profit project
Having grown up in a predominantly white area, I got used to being the only black or mixed race person in any given setting, whether that was in class at school, or in my sports teams.
When I started hockey I had a lot of these same experiences. Luckily my passion for hockey and desire to succeed outweighed any insecurities I felt from looking out of place, so I kept playing the sport I fell in love with.
I had never felt comfortable speaking up on the lack of diversity in hockey, but always aspired to reach the highest level so that I can act as the role model for the younger generations of black hockey players that I never had.
Last summer a photo of me taken at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest went viral and was shared by the likes of Lewis Hamilton, David Beckham, Kate Richardson-Walsh, and Martin Luther King III.
This gave me the platform to speak up on what I feel is important, and in hockey I feel it is important to recognise the lack of diversity, not to point blame, but so that we can make the sport as inclusive as possible.
And ultimately, so that more young players of all backgrounds feel like hockey is a sport they are welcomed in, and can succeed in, and so that they can experience all of the great things hockey brings that I have been lucky enough to have experienced.
The Hockey Mentors Programme supports exactly this, with the mission of helping all junior players overcome barriers and fulfil their potential.
One of our biggest focuses is on diversity, and we do this by supporting players who may be considered minorities to help overcome any barriers they might face and show them that they can succeed. I would have loved to be a part of a programme like this when I first started hockey, so I think this will be a truly invaluable experience.
With our mentors coming from a variety of backgrounds, and with different interest areas, each candidate in our programme can be matched with a mentor who can serve them as a suitable role model to relate to and look up to.
Given that this is a very player-led mentor system we hope that each of our athletes can serve as inspiring role models, and offer the best advice from hockey specifics, to managing a school career as an athlete.
One of the largest areas of burnout we see in sport comes as a result of mental health, so at the Hockey Mentors Project we are determined to support players’ mental health. Although mindset is key in becoming successful, we also recognise that it is crucial in helping us stay healthy and happy as people as well as players.
It’s been really incredible to see more people in and out of the hockey community making efforts to make our sport as inclusive as possible.
I believe that this is a great start, but only the start, and there is still work to be done. But initiatives like The Hockey Mentors Programme are a great use of everyone uniting in order to help the younger generations of hockey players succeed in any way possible.
Because of all of this I am so excited to be a part of the Leadership Group on this programme as we help inspire and support the future stars of hockey!
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