After the Great Britain Women’s Hockey team won the Gold Medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016 every member of the squad was determined that their success would inspire the next generation of hockey players. Blackpool born Kirsty Mackay was one of that squad and we were thrilled to welcome her to AKS to deliver a Goalkeeping Masterclass to pupils across the school from Year 5 to 13.
Kirsty spent the afternoon at AKS and her visit started with an address to the pupils in which she gave an insight into her journey from a local sports-mad schoolgirl to a Rio Olympian.
Kirsty first played in goal when she was encouraged to do so by her PE teacher Kay Hanham who was an England GK Coach and Team manager who immediately saw the potential Kirsty showed being a talented footballer. After lots of hard work and playing for her County, the England Selectors picked her up and she was the youngest ever GK to play for England when she was included in the England U16 team in 2000 at the tender age of just 13!
More hard work saw her progress through the England U16, U18 and then U21 ranks and get selected to attend the Junior World Cup in Chile at age 18. Kirsty then played for England Seniors and GB and was included in the training squad for the London 2012 Olympics. She then had a huge setback when she sustained a serious back injury which put her out of action for 14 months and in effect put pay to her ambition to play at London 2012.
After recovering from the injury, Kirsty was determined to fulfil her dream and so trained even harder to work her way back into contention for a place in Rio. Now training full time with the squad at Bisham Abbey she finally got reward for her hard work and determination when she was selected to be part of the Rio squad and after the team won gold she has memories that will live with her for ever.
Kirsty then answered questions from the enthralled audience and gave an insight into what it takes to reach the top in sport sighting self belief, determination and resilience as three vital qualities you need to achieve your goal.
Her next stop was with the AKS Junior pupils where she gave them an introduction to goalkeeping. The pupils enjoyed lots of fun exercises to improve their hand-eye co-ordination and reactions as well as their ability to kick the ball. The youngsters asked some great questions and no doubt some will have been inspired to take up the position.
It was then out onto the hockey pitch where she worked with AKS Junior and Year 7 goalkeepers passing one some valuable tips and helping them to perfect their skills.
Kirsty’s final session was with the AKS Senior keepers. She certainly put them through their paces introducing the more advanced techniques of diving and smothering and the red faces behind the helmets certainly indicated that they had worked hard and they all agreed they had definitely learnt a lot.
At the end of the session AKS 1st XI GK and Captain Alanis P thanked Kirsty on behalf of everyone for giving up her time to visit the school , pass on many valuable coaching points and most of all inspire her and everyone else to aim for their dreams.
At the end of an action packed day Kirsty had definitely been an inspiration not just to AKS Goalkeepers but to all the pupils. Her journey from a local schoolgirl to Rio Olympian is a real one that they can all relate to and her message of work hard, be determined and believe in yourself will hopefully be inspirational not just in their sporting lives but in life in general.