Starting out in sport – A-Star Sports ambassador Helen Richardson talks about her early experiences and inspiration

Interview with Helen Richardson, Team GB hockey player and Olympic bronze medallist

Inspiring children to be active and play sport at all levels is a key ambition for A-Star Sports ambassador Helen Richardson. Knowing just how important early engagement is for young children, we asked Helen about how she got started and what encouraged her to keep participating:

What’s your earliest memory of enjoying being active / playing sport?

“When I was about 5 or 6 years old, playing football and cricket in the park with my three older brothers and roller hockey on the patio in the back garden. We would literally spend the whole day playing and generally being active.”

What influence did your family, friends, teachers and coaches have on you with regard to being active / playing sport?

“My family were massively influential. First of all my parents both loved sport, it was part of my life from day one. Then I had three brothers who I always played sport with or just making up games. We also lived next to a park which was quite deliberate and was perfect for being active but safe at the same time. I had a male teacher at my Primary School who started a football and cricket club and invited the girls to play with the boys which was great for me. I also joined a local hockey club when I was seven years old with my brothers. It was a men’s club and the coaches were completely responsible for giving me the best start to my hockey playing career, they were very influential.”

Who were your most influential role models in Key Stages 1 & 2 (primary school)?

“I guess the people I’ve mentioned above. So my brothers, my Primary school teacher and my hockey club coaches.”

What inspired you as a youngster to keep on participating?

“I just absolutely loved it! It’s just what I did, I really enjoyed it, I was good at it and that’s where, for me, I felt most comfortable. I also thrived on the competitive side of sport.”

What advice would you give to parents / families / teachers / coaches trying to inspire children to take part in activities and sports?

“Start as young as possible. Make it fun and enjoyable. Praise hard work. Challenge those that want and need to be challenged, allowing them to explore their own solutions. The same for the competitive side, some love it and need it, some hate it. Lastly, if it’s cold and wet outside, either go inside, or get them in the right kit to keep them warm….being cold is the worst thing when playing sport!”

Read more about Helen and A-Star Sports.