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Helen Richardson-Walsh wants to see nurturing culture thrive at Cambridge City Hockey Club

Vicki Franks will provide vital experience to City's young squad. Picture: Keith Heppell
Vicki Franks will provide vital experience to City's young squad. Picture: Keith Heppell

Helen Richardson-Walsh has placed creating a positive environment where individuals and the team can flourish at the heart of Cambridge City’s objectives this season.

Wind back the clock 12 months and it had been a strong start to the Vitality Women’s Hockey League, Division One South 2020/21 campaign, but City were always aware that some of the players would only be available for the year.

It became a short but sweet five games before the abandonment, and has meant that there have been quite a number of changes this summer.

“There were a few who we knew were only coming in for a season, there have been a few again that have gone to university which is pretty standard for us,” said City women’s head coach Richardson-Walsh.

“We obviously get really good juniors that come through and then they go off to university, which is partly our role in developing them as hockey players.

“We have quite a lot of new players coming in. We’ve still got the experience but we’ve also got four juniors who will be joining the squad.

“How much they play we’re not sure yet, but there is some really good talent again coming through from the junior section of the club.

“It will be great for them to see what it is like training in and around the ones, and it will be really good for their development.”

Richardson-Walsh will be able to call on the experience of the likes of Vicki Franks, Emma Shinkin and the returning Holly Sheahan.

Among the new arrivals is Emily McStea, a recent Ireland under-21 international who makes the switch across from Cambridge University.

“She is a really great character to have in the group,” said Richardson-Walsh, who will be assisted by Dougie Rice this season.

“She has a great energy. We lost a little bit of that with Heidi Baber leaving us last season.

“She was the person who provided that for us, and now Emily has taken on that role which is great because you need all those different personalities in the team.

“She is someone who just brings that energy and fun.

“There is a really good competitiveness in the team, they want to do well, they want to challenge themselves, try their best and push themselves and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”

It has been an indifferent pre-season in terms of games and availability, but City have a clear identity and culture that they want to foster.

“The fundamental essence of the team remains the same in that we want to create an environment where everyone can be themselves and get the best out of each other,” said Richardson-Walsh.

“ I think first and foremost that is to give our absolute best in every game and we want to do that whilst enjoying ourselves and wanting to play hockey, which is the most important bit.”

They start their season away to Trojans on Saturday (September 25).

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