A day of heroes
Today signalled the start of a 10-day endurance challenge for the Hockey_for_Heroes #Opstretcher tour. With the sun beating down on the squad their first game against Cardiff & Met Select commenced on the water soaked grounds of the Sports Wales Centre in Sophia Close.
Before the game England GB Hockey Manager Andy Halliday told us “we’re treating this like a marathon. There’s no point going into this at full speed. We’re thinking endurance and stamina but everyone’s excited and ready to face what’s ahead”.
The game got off to an energetic start and very much continued that way throughout. Both teams played fantastically well, displaying sheer intensity and power in their game. A great first-time goal scored by Cardiff & Met Select player Reuben Elliott who told us he felt elated to have scored his first goal during this game specifically. “Good Luck team”.
Speaking with the Hockey for Heroes team Captain Joel Forrester after the game he told us “We had a good game against a tough opposing team. They have some great players and scored some fantastic goals”. Joel went on to say “The squad and I are feeling good although the weather as it is might make the next few days a bit more challenging but we’re ready. We’ve been looked after incredibly well here by the staff and facilities – we couldn’t ask for more”.
The squad faced an 18 mile walk after today’s match, taking them to Cwmbran Stadium where they’ll face the Welsh Masters and Gwent Select team. The team’s coach, Steph told us “the guys all have fresh legs today but we’re trying hard to make sure they don’t burn themselves out too quickly”.
The challenge this awesome group of both men and women are undertaking is all for a great cause. Hockey for Heroes aids the charity Help for Heroes in their goal to support as many injured service men and women as possible. We were fortunate enough to meet one of those heroes; Dom Lovett, an injured ex-marine who will be joining the squad throughout their journey but in a unique way. Dom will be carried on a stretcher during the 10 days of walking. Something he’s also had to prepare extensively for. “Collectively we have a massive journey ahead but we’re mentally prepared and looking forward to it”. Dom became involved with this beast of a challenge through his friend and Hockey for Heroes team captain Joel Forrester.
So far, the squad have raised more than £30,000 towards their £50,000 goal. A very worthy sum for such a test of stamina. The group will in total walk whilst carrying Dom more than 200 miles; ending up in their final destination of Marlow, Buckinghamshire, where they play their 30th and final game.
The group were waved off today after some motivating messages delivered by former Wales rugby skipper Ryan Jones and Head of Elite Sport at Sport Wales, Brian Davies.
1 game down – 29 to go! Best of luck to all involved.