Hockey: Young players in spotlight

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The Independent Online
WITH THE national league taking a break this weekend, the women's focus is on Bedford for the under-16s and under-18s regional tournament, writes Bill Colwill. There will, however, be no rest for the seven girls from the Hightown club playing in the North's Under-18 side, nor for Barbara Walsh, the manager of the North Under-16 squad.

Her 16-year-old daughter, Rachel, following in the footsteps of sister Kate, is one of the Hightown seven, and it could have been nine but for the non-availability because of Under-21 commitments of Annalisa Bishop and Kate Hendrick, who are repaying the club's youth policy of the past three years.

Looking forward to the weekend, Kate expects a good deal of exposure. "We haven't got many defenders so I expect I will play a lot," she said.

Speaking of her recent national league experience, Kate said: "It's making me a lot tougher and it's so enjoyable. You get knocked around a bit but that's the name of the game."

They clearly breed them young and tough in the north. Springfields' Lorna Sissons, at 12, is joining her sister Rachel in the Under-16 squad, where much is expected of a 13-year-old goalkeeper, Hannah Spacey, from Poulton.