A six-year-old girl from Lancashire is following in her mum’s footsteps by starting training as a hockey goalkeeper after learning the ropes virtually during lockdown.
Erin Hart has made a big impression at Fylde HC, where mum Sarah is 1s keeper in their National League squad.
The primary school pupil made her debut in goal when in-person training returned this spring following virtual training sessions through the pandemic.
Sarah, who is also part of the North of England over-35s squad, said: “I initially encouraged Erin to play outfield to get a feel for the game, but she was really keen to follow me into goal and we’ve had lots of fun training together.
“As the smallest player on the pitch, Erin found outfield a bit intimidating but she says she has really enjoyed training with me and likes being able to take part without being overshadowed by older children.
“At this stage we’re just focussing on keeping the training fun and concentrating on developing Erin’s hand-eye coordination and footwork in the pads. At this age the most important thing is that she enjoys herself.”
Sarah started playing in goal during her schooldays in Lancashire, joining Blackburn Northern in 1995, followed by Didsbury Greys until 2009.
After a hiatus of a few years she returned to the sport in 2015 and joined Fylde for the 2019 season.
Sarah recently worked with ex-GB goalkeeper Simon Mason, of Mercian Hockey, to develop her own unique customised kit, and Erin has also followed her mum in the kit stakes. However there is no sponsorship deal in place and both Sarah and Erin are completely self-funded.
Sarah said: “There are not many hockey companies that make goalkeeper kit that offers the top level of protection and rebound for children and smaller adults.
“My new kit provides better fit and protection than anything else I’ve had in my playing career, and it’s reassuring to know that Erin is as safe as she can be in her kit too.”
Erin has already come to the attention of star goalkeepers Maddie Hinch and Amy Tennant, who offered encouragement via Twitter and a bright future is predicted for Fylde’s young goalie.
Fylde Women’s club captain Fran Loffler-Thompson said: “After a lockdown series of virtual training sessions led by Fylde’s club coaches, Erin developed great stick skills and then emerged as a fine young goalkeeper.
“What a credit to Sarah and teamwork from Fylde Hockey Club. Erin gains respect from everyone who meets her and is a future star in the making.”