The Countess of Wessex visited England Hockey today at its base at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre, Buckinghamshire, to talk to staff and players from both National teams, and observe a training session as both teams prepare for a summer of huge importance in the international calendar.

The Countess, wife of Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex, has been Royal Patron of England Hockey since 2007 and is also patron of a number of other sports. HRH will no doubt be keen to see the teams’ progress this summer, as they compete for medals at both the Hockey World Cup in the Netherlands in June, and the Commonwealth Games in Scotland, in August.

During her visit The Countess of Wessex also got involved on the hockey pitch, playing with England player Shona McCallin. HRH said afterwards: “I always really enjoyed playing hockey, it’s so much more than just a team sport. Hockey has a great social side and is a thoroughly enjoyable game to both play and watch.”

England Hockey Chief Executive Sally Munday added: “It was brilliant for both staff and players to enjoy a Royal visit, and The Countess of Wessex is clearly very enthusiastic in her support of hockey. Having HRH as our Royal Patron is hugely valuable to our sport. Hockey can be a real inspiration to children across the country, particularly given the recent successes of our National teams, and support from the Royal Family helps us to push that message out.”

After watching the women’s National squad train; talking to the both teams’ Head Coaches Bobby Crutchley and Jason Lee, and team Captains Barry Middleton and Kate Richardson-Walsh; The Countess went on to meet other staff and players at Bisham Abbey.

England Hockey, which benefits from funding from Sport England at grass roots level, and UK Sport at elite level, also moves into a new Olympic legacy venue this summer for hosting major events – Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The first event to be held at the venue will be the Investec London Cup, in July, in which both England’s men’s and women’s teams will feature.

Source: England Hockey
Photograph: HRH The Countess of Sussex with England player Shona McCallin