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England Under-23s Roller Hockey player Jensen Richards makes positive impression on his debut





ROLLER HOCKEY

With just one action Jensen Richards showed that he was more than worthy of his place in the England Under-23 roller hockey team.

Aged just 17, Richards could have been forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed. After all, he was the youngest outfield member of the England squad and found himself pitted against some of the sport’s most established nations at the World Skate Europe European Championships in Portugal earlier this month.

However, there is a self assurance to the way that the Cambridge & Cottenham Rink Hockey Club player carries himself out on the rink – highlighted by the goal that he scored in a defeat to Italy.

Jensen Richards impressed on his England Under-23 debut
Jensen Richards impressed on his England Under-23 debut

With his back to goal, a lot of players would have gone for a safer option but Richards instead flicked the ball between his legs and into the top corner of the Italian net.

“It was nice to score a goal like that,” said Richards, who trains and plays with his club side at Cambridge Regional College.

“I was confident I belonged in the squad but a goal like that always helps. I think it impressed my team-mates and hopefully showed the coach as well that I can play at that level.

“I like to try things when I’m playing and I don’t get too affected if it doesn’t come off.”

Since the age of six, roller hockey has been Richards’ life. He seemed to be a natural from the start and has been part of the England development squad since turning seven.

As well as playing for the under-23s, the teenager was also a member of the England Under-19 set-up that took part in last year’s Under-19 World Skate Games in Argentina, while he is hoping to travel to Italy later in 2023 for the Under-19 World Roller Games.

Success on the international scene is hard to come by though. The likes of Argentina, Spain and Portugal all take the sport extremely seriously, with players benefiting from government funding and extended periods of training.

“It’s tough. In England we don’t get the training time together that others get in those bigger countries,” added Richards, who lives Fordham and formerly attended the primary school in the village and Soham Village College.

“You also see the facilities that some of these countries have to play and train in compared to us in England.”

But while the road to parity may be a long one, there has been progress over the years.

In previous tournaments England have been known to ship 20 goals in one game, but those days appear to be a thing of the past.

Carlos Amaral, who Richards credits as being his mentor, oversees roller hockey throughout the country in his role as National Roller Hockey Association coaching director and he is working to bridge the gap further.

And locally the sport is also thriving with Cambridge & Cottenham joined by Ely and Chesterton and Soham Rink Hockey Clubs.

Anyone interested in taking up the sport can join Cambridge & Cottenham’s fun skating and roller hockey for beginner classes on Fridays (5pm-7pm) at Cottenham Sports Centre. Contact the club via join.ccrhc@gmail.com for more information.



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