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Manchester High School for Girls

Ella for England!

The February half-term break was a special one for Ella (10M) who joined England Hockey’s National Age Group Squad (NAGS), the highest honour obtainable for a junior hockey player

This elite programme involves players training with England coaches, playing international fixtures and personal development sessions on a wide range of topics, such as nutrition, anti-doping, injury management and psychology. The training camp culminated in an international fixture against Ireland at Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire, where the England team won 3-0.

This was Ella’s first time at NAGS and she believes that the experience has made a huge impact on her development: “It didn’t really sink in that I was going to NAGS until I arrived and got into the swing of training. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but things changed as soon as I got out onto the pitch. Receiving my debut cap in the match against Ireland was an incredibly proud moment for me and my family and it was great to get the win! I’m hoping to retain my place and continue to work towards a Senior England call up.”

As part of Ella’s selection, her coach, Sarah Rowley, was invited to take part in an insight day with members of the England Coaching team. Mrs Rowley joined 50 other coaches from schools and clubs across the country to gain a greater understanding of how the elite programme has been designed. The coaches took part in question and answer sessions with leading performers, observed match preparation and were welcomed into the team talks given to elite performers prior to the international fixtures against Ireland.

Mrs Rowley, who has played and coached hockey for many years, said: “I had a fantastic day and felt honoured to be a part of it. To experience every facet of such an elite coaching programme was a once in a life time opportunity and I have taken so much away from the day, but the absolute highlight was watching Ella compete. There is no greater honour than representing your country and I felt proud to see one of our girls competing at the very highest level.”

Hockey continues to be incredibly popular at Manchester High and many girls play competitively for clubs and the county.