Olympic hockey duo open Ipswich School Sports centre

 Opening of Ipswich School Sports Centre by Harry Martin and George Pinner

Opening of Ipswich School Sports Centre by Harry Martin and George Pinner - Credit: Lucy Taylor

Great Britain Olympic hockey stars George Pinner and Harry Martin were back at their former school to open Ipswich School’s new Sports Centre, at Rushmere.

The duo, who represented Great Britain at London 2012 and will both be looking for more Olympic glory in Rio next year, were present to open the new centre, as well as coach youngsters during the afternoon.

It was a perfect combination and a perfect occasion, and one both players were proud to be part of.

“We had pretty good facilities when I was at Ipswich School,” said Martin, 23, who was a pupil at the School, from three to 18 years old.

“We had excellent coaches mind you, but I kind of wish I had these type of pitches to play on and it makes me really happy to see these wonderful facilities.

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“I’m really proud to see this.”

Alongside Martin was Pinner, the Great Britain goalkeeper, who attended Ipswich School from seven to 18 years old.

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“Looking back at my time at the school, it was a great experience,” he said.

“Not just for hockey, but the opportunity to do all sports.

“I’m very keen that children just play sport and lots of it. It’s so good for them.

“It’s fantastic to be here opening these facilities. We go around the world and see some fantastic facilities – especially in Holland and Germany – and this is right up there.”

The two former Ipswich School pupils were joined in a coaching session by hockey hot-shot Ashley Jackson.

Jackson, 27, plays for East Grinstead and is the leading goalscorer for England with 79 goals. He is a full-time hockey player and has just returned from India, where he captained Ranchi Rays to the Hockey India League.

“The pitches look pretty good to say the least,” Jackson said.

“Any school with these type of facilities has an advantage.

“It would be nice to have more in the country.”

Three new Astroturf hockey pitches have been built at the Rushmere site, two of which are in the Olympic blue and pink colours, and two of which are floodlit.

There are also six floodlit netball courts.

Headmaster of Ipswich School, Nicholas Weaver was a proud man at the opening.

“It’s splendid to see so many youngsters enjoying themselves,” he said.

“And what a honour to have world-class players here to help us open the facility. It makes me very proud.”

As well as hockey coaching, there was also netball coaching and two exhibition matches, one of hockey and one of netball, featuring Surrey Storm.

A VIP reception brought the day to a close.

There is little doubt the new facilities are excellent and Ipswich School’s hope is that other schools and organisations in the area can benefit from them too.

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