Rhona picks up the sticks of the trade in just 12 months

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A NATIONAL initiative delivered by Scottish Hockey and run through the Borders Fjordhus hockey club has provided dividends for Galashiels youngster Rhona Gowans.

Rhona, a P7 Balmoral Primary School pupil in Galashiels, had never lifted a hockey stick or even watched a game of hockey until last winter.

Aware that she would be playing sports that she had not yet tried when moving on to secondary school, Rhona acted on an advert for Scottish Hockey Cashback come-and-try nights at the Queen’s Centre last winter.

These events gave the proceeds of organized crime to local clubs, which in turn gave youngsters aged nine to 18 the opportunity to experience, free, activities that otherwise might not be accessible to them.

Rhona attended the six-week block of Saturday nights each week, under the guidance of Pippa Bell, one of the Borders Fjordhus club’s most enthusiastic, hardworking and respected coaches.

Right from the start it was noticed by coach Bell that Rhona had a natural ability with the stick in hand and was a very balanced and co-ordinated young lady.

At the end of the block, all participants were invited to attend the Borders Fjordhus Participation Centre at Tweedbank.

Rhona grasped this invitation with both hands and attended each week, learning new skills, making new friends, communicating with coaches and, most of all, thoroughly enjoying the experience.

At this point, the Borders Hockey Development team selected a development squad for players between eight and 12 and Rhona was selected as a player with great potential.

Individual skills, team skills and confidence grew in Rhona and she has now started to excel in her sport, attending this year’s National Primary School Hockey Festival and an invitational sports academy skills session in August.

These allowed her to develop as a player and learn from girls of her own age, and those at under-15 level. This, in the long run, will benefit Rhona’s school and will allow her to progress through the age groups of Borders Fjordhus.

The relationship between player and coach was also an integral part of this young player’s development with coach Bell giving advice to Rhona’s parents on stick choice and size guide, even searching the internet to find the correct equipment – way above and beyond the call of duty.

From last winter to this, in less than 12 months, this young Borders schoolgirl has gone from never playing hockey to being one of our region’s most talented players in her age group.

The Scottish Hockey Cashback nights have demonstrated that giving the opportunity to young people can reap its rewards.

As a result of this success, Scottish Hockey has recognised the value of the scheme and the involvement of the club, and presented Rhona with a full Scottish hockey kit as a reward for her efforts.