Richardson-Walsh wants Hampstead & Westminster women to continue to grow
PUBLISHED: 14:00 27 September 2019
Kate Richardson-Walsh wants to help Hampstead & Westminster's women grow as a group as they embark on a new challenge in the Investec League Premier Division, writes Lee Power.
The 2016 Olympic gold medalist and fellow coach Sarah Kelleher led the squad to the East Conference title last season and promotion to the top flight via the play-offs.
And they got the new campaign off to a fine start with a 4-1 win at Beeston on the opening day, before beating University of Birmingham 3-0.
Richardson-Walsh said: "I've loved my time at Hampstead thus far. Coaching this team has certainly helped fill the void of not playing.
"I love hockey and love helping players be the best version of themselves. We want to continue to grow as a group.
"A large contingent of the group started this journey some years ago. It's credit to them this team is now in the Prem.
"There is a desire in the group to continue to develop and improve in all areas. It's really exciting to see where we can go and where we can take the women's section as a whole at Hampstead & Westminster."
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The team won 17, drew two and lost only two of their 21 league and play-off matches last season, outscoring the opposition 64-11.
And Richardson-Walsh paid tribute to their work ethic, adding: "My overriding memories of last season are that of a group who were absolutely dedicated to their goal and stuck together as a group through the good and the challenging times.
"It was a massive team effort from start to finish. The squad did a tremendous job and as a result we attracted a good amount of interest from players looking to join the group."
Lily Owsley, another Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalist, GB teammates Grace Balsdon and Holly Hunt and former international Joie Leigh all joined the ranks this summer and Richardson-Walsh hopes they will bring more.
"We felt that adding Lily, Grace Balsdon, Joie and Holly provided something different to each line, whilst not overly disrupting the group from last season," she said.
"It's a real fine balance and this season, like every season, will require a squad effort to achieve our goals."
While not being drawn on specific targets, it is fair to say that with added depth in their squad, Hampstead & Westminster will certainly be looking to make their mark on their Premier Division rivals this term. So far, so good.
"We worked hard in pre-season in preparation. We've come out of a very competitive division last season and feel this has prepared us well for the new challenge of the Premier," added Richardson-Walsh.
"The players are hungry to grow and develop this season in exactly the same way as last season. The group is helping me grow as a coach. I value their insight, input and honest feedback. Let's see what the next chapter brings!"