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Tonbridge School's Team England and Great Britain hockey coach Leigh Maasdorp joining Team England Futures programme at Commonwealth Games

Hockey guru Leigh Maasdorp says her sport has a "huge opportunity" to propel itself to the next level at this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

Maasdorp, from Aylesford, has been a coach with Team England and Great Britain Hockey for almost nine years, coaching the Under-18s, Tier 2 side and managing the GB Elite Development Programme before her current role with England Under-21s.

Tonbridge School's Leigh Maasdorp is going behind the scenes at the Commonwealth Games
Tonbridge School's Leigh Maasdorp is going behind the scenes at the Commonwealth Games

And she’s done all that while also juggling the assistant director of sport job at Tonbridge School.

Also a former player and coach at Medway side Holcombe, Maasdorp, 37, has been rewarded for her incredible efforts with selection to the Team England Futures this summer, which will see over 1,000 talented young athletes and aspiring support staff given the opportunity to attend the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, watch live sporting action and take a first-hand look behind the scenes.

“It's just a phenomenal opportunity to see behind the scenes and also to meet incredible people within their sports," said Maasdorp, speaking at a Team England Futures Immersion Camp in Loughborough, where athletes and support staff had the chance to meet each other, visit Kitting Out and experience workshop sessions on topics such as working with the media, mental wellbeing and anti-doping.

“It was a bit of a surprise, really, when I got the email and obviously the nomination.

“It's really great considering how few people get this opportunity and get to experience this - so it’s a real privilege.”

The Team England Futures programme seeks to better prepare athletes to deliver medal-winning performances as either Team England, Team GB or ParalympicsGB debutants at future Games, while also giving support staff a first-hand look at the opportunities they could be presented with, as well as challenges they may face, at a multi-sport competition.

And Maasdorp, who was born in South Africa, is extremely excited to get involved with another home Games after witnessing bronze medal success at London 2012.

“I was born in South Africa but I’ve lived here for the last 14 years, so, this is very much home and I'm very much supporting the England hockey girls, for sure,” she added.

“And you know, I was fortunate to be there for London 2012, too. So, to go to another home Games, a big multi-sport event, is great.

“In Birmingham, I'd love to see some of the hockey, but, in saying that, I think when you are at these multi-sport events, there is a huge opportunity to see other sports.

“I know swimming is always first up so it's always cool to see the swimming and diving is always cool.

“I think the introduction of the T20 cricket is really fun, so I'd love to go to the T20s, and cycling is also really interesting.”

Maasdorp is currently with England Under-21s, but she is hoping that this experience with Team England Futures can help her on her quest to be a part of the senior squad - and to taste events such as the Commonwealth Games more regularly in the future.

She added: “Coaching-wise, I just like to keep pushing on. I’m currently with England Under-21s and would love an opportunity in the future with the senior squad.”

Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. You can find out more about the programme by visiting https://www.sportsaid.org.uk/partnerships/team-england-futures/

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