Sunday, April 14, 2024

From Isle of Man to Newcastle, young talent recognised at Hockey Writers’ Awards

Four new rising talents of the game were recognised in the Hockey Writers’ Club youth and junior awards 2022 after presentations were made at the annual awards lunch on Wednesday at Royal Thames Yacht Club, Knightsbridge, London.

The judging panel sought information from coaches, clubs and schools, with the judges considering not just hockey ability but players’ personal qualities and potential for future development.

Past winners of awards include Rio Olympic Games gold medallists Maddie Hinch and Sophie Bray. 

Winners

Youth, Girls 18 and under – Sienna Dunn (Repton School, Repton HC, Isle of Man)

Youth, Boys 18 and under – Tom Spreckley (Hitchin Boys School, Cambridge City HC) centre back

Junior, Girls 16 and under – Hannah Cutler (Tynedale HC, Royal Grammar School Newcastle) 

Junior, Boys 16 and under – Rohit Jakhu (Bishops Vesey GS, University of Birmingham HC) 

Profiles of Winners 2022

U16 Girls – Hannah Cutler (Tynedale HC, The Royal Grammar School Newcastle)

Hannah joined Tynedale HC aged 10 as a dynamic and skilful outfield player. In February 2020 she had a try in goal, representing Tynedale U12s in the North East finals of the In2Hockey competition and kept a series of clean sheets.

During lockdown she loaned a goalie kit from the club to practice in an open barn at home. Her motto quickly became ‘My goal is to stop your goal’, while she joined Tynedale Harriers as a budding runner. Aged 14, she was one of the youngest ever competitors to qualify for Team GB U20 European Championship sprint triathlon in Madrid 2023 and was nominated for Tynedale Young Sportswoman of the Year award. 

Hannah Cutler, right, pictured with Tess Howard PIC: UMPIRE CAM

She is now part of the England U16s, representing the North East of England. She is the first player from Tynedale Junior HC, which began in 2013, to represent them at this level.

Hannah is also a keen artist having the unusual accolade of displaying her artwork in both Antarctica and the international space station. Hannah also created a bronze sculptured baton that traveled as part of a national cycle relay for mental and physical health (following Covid-19) to every cathedral in England. 

Currently in GCSE year, she will soon be training with Durham University.  

U16 Boys – Rohit Jakhu (Bishops Vesey Grammar School, University of Birmingham HC)

Rohit started playing in Year 7 at Bishops Vesey Grammar School and has been coached by Anton Lea at Sutton Coldfield HC ever since, as well as Chris Howell and Mo Samak at school.

Aged 14, Rohit was the youngest player to play for SCHC men’s 1s and was awarded the Young Player of the Year for 2021/22. He was selected for England U16s that year where he captained the team during a trip to Holland and in the Euro’s U16s Tournament in Frankfurt.

He was part of the first cohort to sit full public examinations in May/June 2022 following the Covid lockdown and achieved 10 Grade As in his GCSEs. In August 2022, he was part of the England U17s team which won gold at the 2022 School Games National Finals held at Loughborough University. Having just reached 16, Rohit was selected for England U18 Boys last November. He plays at University of Birmingham HC.

Rohit is pictured here, right, with Ollie Payne, England goalkeeper, and fellow award winner Tom Spreckley

England Hockey coaches say: “Rohit set a standard of improvement and performance from the early days in the programme. He not only has the talent to push on the play at a higher level but also the work ethic to make it happen.”

U18 Girls – Sienna Dunn (Repton School, Repton HC, Isle of Man)

Sienna, pictured below, started her hockey journey aged eight playing at the Manx Youth Games in the Isle of Man. Her love of hockey continued to develop on the island at her local club Valkyrs in Peel. Here she played as a junior in all the age groups and on turning 13 was allowed to play in the senior women’s and mixed leagues. 

She was selected for England U16 trials and navigated through strict Covid restrictions on the island as she enjoyed her first international experience playing a Home Nations competition.

She moved to Repton School for sixth form and 2022 involved numerous success with school and club in both outdoor and indoor competitions. In the England U18 programme, Sienna was made captain for the matches which ran alongside the Women’s World Cup in Terrassa, Spain.

She has already enjoyed success in 2023 after Repton Women lifted the Super 6 trophy at the Copper Box.

An England Hockey junior coach said that Sienna was “a stand-out character in the England environment”, adding: “She leads by example and delivers consistently on the pitch with a very relentless nature and she helps  deliver a competitive yet supportive environment.”

U18 Boys – Tom Spreckley (Hitchin Boys School, Cambridge City HC)

After playing academy level football and representing his county in hockey and cricket, Tom focussed on his hockey aged 14. Starting out at Letchworth HC, he progressed quickly through the senior men’s teams playing East Regional Prem.

In 2019, he was put forward for England U16 open trials but was not taken through. But this didn’t deter Tom from realising his dream of playing elite level hockey.

At 16, he moved to Cambridge City HC. In 2021, he was selected to play for Saxon Tigers at Futures Cup, which in turn led to trials and selection for the 2022 England U18 squad. Following his debut in February last year, he captained the side at last year’s European tournament in Germany and has been selected again for the 2023 season. He’s currently studying for his A-levels at Hitchin Boys School and hopes to study Exercise and Sports Science at university.

Tom Spreckley, left, pictured with England international Nick Bandurak

England Hockey said: “The rate at which Tom improved over the course of the nine-month programme was outstanding. From a timid, under confident and year young player to captain, leader and dominating against some of the best U18 players in Europe was great to see especially given his state school and limited training range!”

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