“All of the children had an amazing experience and memories that will last a lifetime”
Five lucky members of Brighton and Hove Hockey Club's junior section enjoyed a special day when they were chosen as mascots for the FIH Pro League women's international between Great Britain and the Netherlands this month.
Tessa and Charlotte Connell, Grace Hepburn and Remi and Elpi Hussain represented the club on the pitch at Lee Valley on Saturday June 15, walking out in their BHHC kit with the players, chatting to them, being photographed with them and getting their autographs - all live on television.
Claire Connell said: "A very exciting day! A couple of children had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be mascots for the club. They got to go backstage and were put into height order, the youngest two players played rock paper and scissors to choose the team they ran out with - they thought that was brilliant.
"Some of the children were with the Netherlands and some with British players. The players were really chatty and friendly and asked them lots of questions too.
"It was a wonderful set up and an amazing opportunity for Charlie and Tessa. They were disappointed Britain didn't win, but they didn't mind as at the end they were allowed on the pitch, met all the players, got autographs signed and had photos taken with them. A wonderful day and a huge inspiration for the young hockey players and both girls now want to play hockey for England."
Rachel Hepburn described the experience of seeing the international players up close as "incredibly exciting and inspiring" as her daughter Grace, who plays for the BHHC under-12 girls, enjoyed time on the pitch after the match with the GB stars. "For Grace, she was just wide-eyed with it all," she said. "She loved it. To see that the GB players are just ordinary people, very fit, nice people, just shows the youngsters that they can get there too. I'd recommend it to everyone to go and watch the national players."
Rachel said she also enjoyed the intimacy and atmosphere of the Lee Valley stadium.
Jude Hussain said: "All of the children had an amazing experience and memories that will last a lifetime and I just wanted to say thank you to the club for making this happen."
England Hockey had offered Brighton and Hove the opportunity for some of their younger members to be mascots on the day as a reward for the number of tickets club members had bought for the match.
The club put forward five juniors for coveted mascot or flag bearing places. With over 1,250 youngsters attending, the Brighton juniors were part of a team of 46 youngsters taking part in the pre-game ceremony being broadcast live via BT Sport to a global audience.
BHHC's Head of Juniors Development Wendy Russell was also there to share their day with the GB players.
To view a photographic record of the Brighton juniors' day with the GB women see the videos & photos section below for 'BHHC mascots 2019' or click on:
Updated 14:13 - 24 Jun 2019 by David Chappell