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News > Bilton Grange Society News > England Masters Hockey, Sports Coaching, and Balancing Family Life, with Jemma Jones

England Masters Hockey, Sports Coaching, and Balancing Family Life, with Jemma Jones

Receiving the news that I had been selected for the England Masters Over 45 hockey team was a fantastic feeling. Even though I have been selected before, in the O40s age group, every year older gets a little more challenging and to be judged at my age isn’t an easy or comfortable experience. But I’ve always said that I want to play at the highest level possible for as long as I can, so I have to put myself out there.

Now that I’ve made the squad I have the Indoor World Cup in Nottingham later this month, then I will travel to Cork in Ireland for the Home Nations in May and then, later in the year, I will fly to Auckland, New Zealand, for a World Cup in November. All of these tournaments will be an amazing experience.

Playing and coaching sport, hockey in particular, has been a constant in my life. I thoroughly enjoy the challenges that it brings and it’s great to see young people, both boys and girls, improving their game, gaining confidence and enjoying success. This term I’ve had the privilege of coaching the 1st team boys at BG and they have made it through to the IAPS national finals in mid-March. Striving for high standards and quality in training is something that is important and the boys have listened and responded to my coaching. The same has been true when I have coached older students at Rugby School; I have found them all to be good listeners and keen to improve. Men will often be the coaches of boys' teams so I often come across male coaches on match day but it has never been an issue and I enjoy the match dissection after the games.

For nine years I stopped playing hockey and looked after our three children as well as a boarding house full of Year 6 boys. Then, when I found the time and energy, I took the sport up again and thoroughly enjoyed the return to competition and team-play. Taking time out for myself sometimes feels selfish but I hope that I am being a good role model for my children and others, demonstrating that sport brings with it a healthy lifestyle, opportunities to make new friends and the resilience to cope when out of one's comfort zone.

Representing either a school, club or country is an honour and something of which to be proud. There are always hurdles to face and, as a mum and a sports coach, I do have to prioritise and manage my time. I have occasionally had to make sacrifices along the way in pursuit of my ambitions but my family have been great supporters of me and have given me the time and space to do all the training, trials and matches, home and abroad. Without them I wouldn’t have made it.

The friends and memories on and off the pitch over the years have made all of the tough training sessions worth it. Working with others, shoulder to shoulder, to achieve victory or even a medal, is an important message in itself but so to is the recognition that mistakes will be made and it is ok - it is all part of the sporting experience. Playing sport should be an integral part of childhood so that children can experience the feeling of being part of a team and recognise the importance of collaboration and camaraderie. I want the children at BG and Rugby to know that sport isn’t just played in school but it is something that can be enjoyed long into the future.

A conversation with Jemma Jones, for International Women's Day 2024

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