Claire Wibberley-Young, Andy Halliday, Chris Gladman, Roger Lillystone
Last but not least, we catch up with the FRE Flyers coaches. The FRE Flyers have had the benefit of some of the best hockey coaching since 2011. The continued involvement and support from past and present Olympic hockey players has increased their ability and confidence and the strong bond with this original team is still very evident.
Training is held every Friday on the Olympic Pitches at Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre. Amongst the plethora of guests, the Flyers have a regular coaching team (shown above), including Mama Jo, who not only work to improve their hockey, but to also provide that extra support network.
Whats’s your day job? Team Manager Great Britain Mens Hockey, Head Coach, England Indoor. St Albans HC. consultant, speaker, dog walker / runner and extreme hockey dribbler.
How did you get involved with the Flyers? Have been involved from the outset in 2011 when the Flyers were born. Member of the GB Mens 2012 staff, keen to see true Olympic legacy in the making and have been involved ever since.
Any tough times? There have been two periods of angst. Firstly, post 2012, uncertainty around the future and we all wondered whether the project would continue.
Secondly, late 2014, funding desperately needed. Everybody rallied and a major thank you to the Crowdfunder scheme and all who donated. It was make or break………
Best time? Hearing the Flyers cheering louder than everyone else in the hockey arena whilst supporting us at the London Olympics.
Why are you still involved? I continue to be enthused to see what hockey does for this group of very special youngsters from Newham. Seeing how the Flyers have matured and developed, not just as hockey players, but as young people growing up in one of London’s toughest boroughs.
What do you love about the Flyers? All inclusive, hockey for all, no barriers. Also, Knowing that if you’ve had a bad day, it is soon forgotten when you are in the company of the FRE Flyers.
Do you have a good story? We [Great Britain men’s hockey team, London 2012] had just been beaten (hammered) by Holland in the Olympic Semi Final 2012. We were due to play Australia for Bronze, the group were very low after the semi final. We were struggling to get the group back on track for the play off. We received an email from the FRE Flyers telling us how much we (and the Flyers project) had changed lives for the good for this group of youngsters. The email was used in the team talk for that game, a great motivator for the group. On a personal note, it was reality and a light that was shining brightly through the doom of that Semi final. It was a light that has shone ever since. We never won that Bronze medal, but FRE Flyers legacy lives on………..4 years later. Some of the FRE Flyers are full time employed at our Olympic legacy hockey venue, some have moved on, many still play hockey. All are better people thanks to the FRE Flyers project.
How cool are these kids? As an uncool 54 year old has been, I am learning a new language, “Newham parlance” The FRE Flyers are a sic bunch….lush.
He’s a very modest and unassuming chap but really relates to the kids and their stories. Chris Gladman joined the flyers around three years ago after being invited by Andy Halliday to join the coaching team. He felt he could relate to the kids as he describes that he came from a similar background. At the age of 12 he was taken off the streets of Hackney by a hockey coach and developed into quite a player and coach.
Chris describes himself as a sports coach, working mainly at Chigwell School in Essex coaching hockey and football. He has played at international level at U16 and U21 indoor and outdoor. Chris, after some prying, discloses, “one highlight was playing in a World Cup in Vancouver, Canada in 1985. I was also in training squads for senior teams before the World Cup in 1986 and trained with GB squad that won Gold medal at the 1988 Olympics.”
He holds qualifications in hockey and football and has a phenomenal mind for coaching. He states, “I am a level 3 coach and have coached at National league level and also worked at National age group levels for England U16 and U18. I now work for myself coaching for numerous people and coaching from children to adults. Also from school, club, County and Regional level.”
He has a knack of getting to know his group within ten minutes of a session and can tailor the level to pitch the session at from that initial time. He is creative, innovative and can keep the kids motivated through any session. And they love him for it.
When asked about coaching the FRE Flyers, Chris says, “The best thing is that I can relate to the FRE Flyers in the respect that I can encourage them to participate in hockey as I know that it is very rewarding. The FRE Flyers have great attitudes most of the time and are very committed.”
Whats’s your day job? Retired police officer, now freelance hockey coach, specialising in disability hockey.
How did you get involved with the Flyers? I had retired from the Metropolitan Police Service in 2012 and had kept in touch with my friend of many years Andy Halliday who asked me if I wanted to be involved with this project.
Any challenges? When individuals within the group have had personal difficulties and I feel that we act as more than coaches as they place a certain degree of trust in us.
The good times? I have been to see them coming together playing as an 11-a-side team and winning!! Also to see some of them acting as Ball Patrol at the European Championships proudly representing the FRE Flyers.
Why are you still involved? Easy, the project is one that I firmly believe in and I feel that I am travelling on the journey with the youngsters. My aim is to be able teach the youngsters hockey and teamwork but also try and speak to them about getting work, how to present themselves. Also the pleasure of placing some of them with a local club (East London) and seeing them play regularly in League Hockey, and winning praise from club coaches and awards from their fellow players in their first season.
What do you love about the Flyers? The unpredictability, you never know what is going to happen next!!
Your best moment with the Flyers? The day they won their first eleven-a-side match. The elation and the realisation that they could win.
Who are you? Claire Wibberley-Young
Whats’s your day job? I have just resigned from the Metropolitan police after 14 years to re-train as a secondary school Biology teacher.
How did you get involved with the Flyers? I was coaching at Stevenage HC setting up their Flyerz section and had met Andy Halliday a few times via various channels. I found myself stuck at a bit of a crossroads with hockey and Andy (and the FRE Flyers) helped to guide me back in the right direction.
What’s been the biggest challenge? My first session I had to coach alone as all the other coaches were away. I was terrified, but the kids were so supportive and enthusiastic that I didn’t need to worry. The challenge was to kerb their recent increase in swearing during the sessions and we achieved it by working together. (And press-ups! They decided on that part themselves!) It was a massive boost that the kids asked if they could do some of the session again in later weeks!
What good times have you had? Too many, but two that mainly stick in my mind. One was taking a team to Birmingham to play against Old Sihillians and a ‘Back to Hockey’ team at Orlton & West Warwick. My dad had been quite seriously ill and I hadn’t made training for about 6 weeks. When I saw the kids, they greeted me with massive hugs, and were so supportive! They played so well as a team that day too. It was the best I had seen them play together and they were so pleased, Mama Jo and I were so proud!
Secondly, the training session and match against the Metropolitan Police ladies team in their training for the Police hockey finals tournament. A number of the flyers were a bit sceptical about playing a bunch of coppers, but after some solid defending denying Flyers goal scorer Jordan G from scoring and some tough game play, a small barrier was broken down in Newham that evening. And the Met girls went on to win their final!
Why are you still involved? I couldn’t imagine not volunteering to be involved. This project is so important to the local community and sport has shown to have a real influence. I have personally witnessed the Flyers grow, not only as players, but as people. Taking life by the horns, finding a new direction. Like Roger and the other coaches, I see this project as a journey of life, meaning and changing the future of the younger generation.
What one thing do you love about the Flyers? That they can rock up in jeans and still pull of the most masterful moves on pitch.
For more information about the FRE Flyers:
Facebook: FRE Flyers Club
Virgin Money Giving: FRE Flyers Fundraising