Posted in Field Hockey, FRE Flyers, Hockey, Inclusive sport, sport

The Tale of Two Jordan’s…..

So far we’ve spoken to Chris Grant about the Origins and Chapter One, ‘Mama Jo’ Melchior, the all important cog in the wheel that keeps turning, now it’s the turn of some of the FRE Flyers themselves. Meet the two Jordan’s, who tell their tale of life on the Olympic Park. 

Tell me a bit about yourself?  My name is  Jordan, I’m 17 years old. I was  born and raised in Stratford, upbringing was really good and have a supportive family.

How did you get involved with the FRE Flyers?  I used to play some sports such as football and basketball. I heard about FRE Flyers by a close and personal worker from community links who told me try out hockey, as the new sport was growing, and I have now been with the club for 5 years. I believe it was a great thing to do.

Tell me what FRE Flyers means to you? Friendship is very important. Respect is important towards the coaches and players. Excellence is also important to always try your best and leave 100% on the pitch. 

The best thing about the FRE Flyers is how everyone is close and we are like a family which is a great thing. It helps me with training & gaining experience from matches and also experience training with GB players.

Do you play for another club? Yeah, I play for East London.

How did you get to play for that club?
 One of the FRE Flyers coaches recommended to join them and I believe it was a great thing for me to do.

Do you play any other sport?
Yes, I play football sometimes and tennis. 

Why do you think sport is important?
Sport is important because it develops your skill, helps you gain confidence in the sport and in yourself. Also sport is important because it keeps you fit.

What would you be doing now if you didn’t have the FRE Flyers? I believe I would be playing a different sport instead of hockey, most likely football.

What would you like to do in the future?
I would like to be a professional hockey player and also a fitness instructor by not only keeping myself fit but by helping others. 

Do you have anything you would like to do whilst at the Flyers? I would like to do some coaching to help develop my coaching skills.

What are you most looking forward to with the FRE Flyers?
Helping younger players by giving them advice and helping them settle in. Another thing I’m also looking forward to is going to Holland again and beating the Dutch players. I’ve always dreamed of doing it as we lost last time and because everyone’s skill has developed I believe we can win. 

Tell me why you think other people should join in with the FRE Flyers? I believe others should join in with the FRE Flyers to keep fit, meet new people and have the experience to try a new sport.

What is the one thing you would wish for the FRE Flyers? One thing I would wish for the FRE Flyers is to try and bring more players in.

 What is your name? Jordan

How old are you? 18 years old

Tell me a little bit about your background? I have a disability called Autism but this does not disable me.

What did you do before the FRE Flyers?Before I did FRE Flyers I have been involved with athletics and also swimming. I enjoy a challenge and love all sports.

When and how did you get involved in the FRE Flyers? There was this person that introduced me to FRE Flyers which was Paula Blake and also a guy called Jason because they saw potential in me to be part of the FRE Flyers team. When I got to know about FRE Flyers I started to go to hockey training sessions every Friday. From there as soon as my training was developing I was then completing in a premier league against teams in Tower Hamlets that’s how it all happened.

Tell me what FRE Flyers means to you. FRE Flyers are inspiring and enthusiastic. With FRE Flyers you get to make new friends, participate in a lot of opportunities like trips, competitions and activities etc. also, hockey is very physical and keeps you fit, it is also lots of fun. 

How does the FRE Flyers help you? FRE Flyers have driven me to be a better person. From over the past years to now I have progressed very well whilst training with the FRE Flyers, my skills, speed, ability, strength and endurance has enhanced my hockey techniques all thanks to my team and coaches.

Do you play for another club? No! I don’t represent any other club only FRE Flyers.

Do you play any other sport? Yes! Athletics. It’s good to have more than one sport because it helps with your endurance and pace and helps me to maintain my stamina and strength when the game is very physical and fast paced.

Why do you think sport is important? Sport is about having the determination and love in everything you do in that sport. When you begin to learn about hockey as a sport it is not easy to take in and work out, but taking time and learning the ropes, this will help you to achieve your goals, remember practice is key to making everything perfect. It’s important that as a FRE Flyers team that we continue to achieve our goals and show other teams what we are made of and how we have heart, spirit, determination and drive to be the best.

What would you be doing now if you didn’t have the FRE Flyers? I have other activities that I am involved in apart from hockey but I would be very sad because I enjoy it so much.

What would you like to do in the future? I would maybe like to join the England hockey team and become an Olympian at some stage that would be my dream.

What are you most looking forward to with the FRE Flyers? Having a bright future and successful life progressing and carry on learning about this great sport.

Tell me why you think other people should join in with the FRE Flyers? From my experience it gives you new opportunities and skills that are fun and also improves your fitness and it is very competitive.  

What is the one thing you would wish for the FRE Flyers? That they continue to do the best they can and never give up.

Tomorrow we will catch up with two of the current quarter of coaches.

For more information about the FRE Flyers: 

Website :
Twitter: @FREFlyers 
Facebook: FRE Flyers Club

Virgin Money GivingFRE Flyers Fundraising


Posted in Field Hockey, Fitness, Fixtures, FRE Flyers, Hockey, Inclusive sport, Role model, sport, Women in Sport

Mama Jo…

Following on from yesterday’s post from Chris Grant, one of the founders of the FRE Flyers, I caught up with Jo Melchior to find out more about her and her role with the FRE Flyers. 

“I think back to the 6th of August 2012 and smile to myself, as that was the first day I took up the role of Club Development Manager for the FRE Flyers. I have never really been sure of that title, as someone who isn’t impressed with the name on the badge, but rather is a woman whose opinion is formed through the actions of an individual,” Jo explains. 

It’s hard to define a single role for Jo, as she seems to be there for everything, from organising pitches, kit and satellite clubs to social media, crisis management and morale. She commands respect without demand and provides the support the club needs.

“I suppose my remit is to ensure the smooth running of the project, the provision of training, the management of relationships and partnerships, day to day logistics and inevitably the pursuit of funding.

I come from a background in Sport, first as a competitor and subsequently as a teacher / coach / team manager. I have managed large leisure facilities in challenging environments and spent time working in the legal system specialising in child protection. I suppose some of this has prepared me for my most privileged role yet, that of ‘Mama Jo’ to the FRE Flyers a name bestowed on me by the kids themselves.

This entails, providing support of every kind imaginable, sourcing opportunities for training & qualifications, routes to employment, all the regular stuff, but mostly a listening ear, an honest opinion, hopefully some sound advice and sometimes a shoulder to cry on.” 

And that support is not just exclusive to the Flyers themselves, many a time has Jo extended that support. A lynch pin in the network of coaches, a link between the realms. So why does she continue to do her role?  

“Its 4 years on and I am still here, yes its part time in respect of employment, which works for me and the finances of the project, but it’s a full time commitment that I am happy to make, because the personal pride and satisfaction from being around the kids, the coaches and the supporters is immense. I never tire of telling people about what I do for a living and without exception people always react in the same way “wow, that sounds like an amazing job” ….and it is.

Young people often get a ‘bad press’ and sometimes that is the reality of the tiny minority that deserve it. However FRE Flyers has shown me that when given focus and purpose and most of all consistency, even those who might have been at risk of making bad choices in life, make a string of good choices. Our young people have become healthier, happier, smarter, more ambitious and determined and in short are a credit to themselves and their families.”

What’s so good about working with the FRE Flyers? 

“I am lucky to work alongside a terrific team of coaches who all bring a unique flavour to training. They have embraced my philosophy of “challenging, challenging kids”. We expect the core values of FRIENDSHIP, RESPECT & EXCELLENCE to underpin everything we do and have taken what was essentially a ‘vision’ based on Olympic values and created a healthy, vibrant and safe place for those who choose to come along on the journey.”

What should people know about the FRE Flyers? Why does this group continue? 

“We have inevitably lost some along the journey, life and family issues have got in the way, education and work have taken a priority over sport (not the worst thing to happen) and a few have fallen out of love with FRE Flyers, but that’s teenagers for you. The one thing that always remains is that the door never closes, the ‘family ties’ created by the young people may stretch but NEVER break. Once a FRE Flyer, ALWAYS a FRE Flyer.”

Tomorrow we shall be speaking to a couple of the FRE Flyers themselves, so they can tell you why they love hockey and what the FRE Flyers means to them. 

For more information about the FRE Flyers: 

Website :
Twitter: @FREFlyers 
Facebook: FRE Flyers Club
Virgin Money Giving: FRE Flyers Fundraising

Posted in Coaching, Field Hockey, FRE Flyers, Hockey, Inclusive sport, sport

The FRE Flyers: Origins and Chapter One

The memorable thing about meeting Chris Grant, one of the founders of the FRE Flyers, was his complete passion and enthusiasm when sharing the story of the birth of the FRE Flyers during a sunny evening stroll through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. I asked him to share his story….

 “6th July 2005 was one of the best days that this country has had in my lifetime. It was the day that London swayed the IOC
[International Olympic Committee]
into rejecting the charms of runaway favourite, Paris, and embracing our “Singapore Promise” that – if the 2012 Games came to Stratford – we would use them to inspire and engage with young people facing immense challenges around the world.

Five years later, I had been inspired to become a volunteer Board Member of the International Inspiration Foundation: a collaborative effort involving the British Council, UNICEF, UK Sport, the Youth Sport Trust and others – which had set itself the target of fulfilling that Singapore promise by using sport to work in a meaningful way with 12 million children in 20 countries: a target which was ultimately blown away as more than 20 million children and young people were engaged, and 250,000 coaches, teachers and young leaders were trained.

The direct stimulus for the FRE Flyers had nothing to do with sport. It came about when I read a devastating statistic about my home city: the journey from Westminster, the seat of our democracy, to Stratford, our Olympic and Paralympic Park, is 10 stops on the Jubilee Line. In 2010, for each stop along the way, the average life expectancy of a baby born in that neighbourhood went down by just over a year. This felt inexcusable to me, and exacerbated my one real fear about physical legacy of the Games: that we might simply create a new tourist destination in the East of London, which offered nothing to young people who were growing up there, who had very real and immediate needs.

 In May 2010, a small group convened at the Commonwealth Club in Northumberland Avenue to consider the question: “If you were planning to approach a group of young people in the East End of London in 2014 and ask what the Games had done for them, and wanted a positive answer, what would you do?” The group, which included Debbie Lye, the Director of International Inspiration, Steve Grainger, then CEO of the Youth Sport Trust, Geraldine Blake, CEO of Community Links in Newham and Jason Lee, Head Coach GB and England men’s hockey (at that point the reigning European Champions) came up with a clear answer: “You would reinvent the multisports club on the Olympic Park”.

We put some detail behind this, and I turned it into a document with which I then spent a few months trailing around to different funders and organisations trying to gather support. It soon became apparent that people had other priorities, or didn’t really understand what we were trying to do. But in 2011, when Jason Lee wanted to do some work with his squad to ensure that they really felt the benefits of being “at home” when they played in the London Games, and also to develop them as individuals and a team, the idea came about of creating a project in conjunction with Community Links, which could become a prototype for the club.

Quickly, we made arrangements to recruit 30 young people – boys and girls – through Community Links. We specifically avoided going through PE Departments – or schools at all, as we didn’t think they would be able to resist the temptation to send their “goodies” or their sporty pupils. Community Links ran programmes for young people facing all kinds of challenges, and they succeeded in bringing together a group who looked as far away from a classic junior hockey squad in this country as you can imagine.

Things moved quickly, and on 5th March 2011 the GB players met the group who would later name themselves the FRE Flyers for the first time. The deal with the youngsters was simple: show up to all the sessions and behave yourself well enough, and in just 12 weeks you’ll get on a bus with the GB squad and go to Holland and play a hockey match against a Dutch Club side.

 What happened next could fill a book let alone a blog. For now, I’ll just say that the prototype was a huge success, and became the foundation for what has become a genuinely life-changing experience for a number of the young people. I’ll also say that – as the boys lost their game 4-1, and the girls 1-0 – the Dutch parents at Union Hockey Club simply refused to believe that the vast majority of the youngsters had never played the game three months earlier.

 In the five years since then, a remarkable number of the original youngsters have continued to play and love hockey. They’ve been joined by new arrivals although, to be honest, the original vision of a thriving, large-scale multisports club on the Olympic Park remains elusive.

We’ve learned an immense amount and, with the new priorities of Government and Sport England, maybe the landscape will be more conducive to building the FRE Flyers and similar initiatives. I’m certainly going to take some of that learning in the Boardroom of Sport England, when I take up my place in September of this year.

Maybe most important, what has become clear is that hockey is too shining an asset to be confined to the leafy suburbs and lucky few. The qualities and skills developed by the FRE Flyers have made them more employable; healthier; more resilient and better at forming strong relationships – all things which contribute to a longer and happier life. Those Jubilee Line statistics on life expectancy at birth have actually got worse since 2010, as our country has seen inequality and unfairness grow. Wouldn’t it be great if hockey could be part of the solution to that glaring set of problems?”

 Chris Grant – July 2016

Tomorrow we will catch up with Mama Jo to learn about her important role within the FRE Flyers.

For more information about the FRE Flyers: 


Twitter: @FREFlyers 

Facebook: FRE Flyers Club

Virgin Money Giving:  FRE Flyers Fundraising


Posted in Coaching, Field Hockey, FRE Flyers, Hockey, Hockey for Heroes, Inclusive sport, Role model, sport, Women in Sport


The Olympic values; adopted by the FRE Flyers, a sporting group of youngsters from Newham and Tower Hamlets.

FRE Flyers and Hockey for Heroes join forces – June 2016

As the Rio Olympics draw closer, reminiscing back to London 2012, can we say that sport had an impact on the local community? For one legacy group frequently practicing on the Olympic Park, years later, hockey, to them, has become more than just a game.

Throughout this week, I’ll be featuring this group, the FRE Flyers, on the blog. I want to help you get to know this amazing project a little better, who we are, what we do, the principles, origins, founders, funders and successes of the FRE Flyers. I’ll introduce you to some inspiring and creative people, including the kids, coaches and creators. Speaking to some of the original members of the group I’ll find out why hockey is important to them and how the FRE Flyers has helped them and will continue to help others along their journey.

This is what the FRE Flyers means to me…. 

‘Sic wheels Bruv’…

…shouted one of my kids as I’m flying past the Velodrome on my nephew’s scooter, freewheeling my way along the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park heading to the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre for another FRE Flyers training session. The scooter had been subject to ridicule from a majority of my work colleagues, and I had expected ridicule from East London, but for the grand total of £1, it was a real bargain timesaver, and by the sounds of it, a bit of a surprising hit with my kids. The scooter, like the Flyers, represented a freedom; an expression of whatever I wanted to be, of whoever I wanted to be, in a place and an environment that was perfect to do that. 

It didn’t take me long to realise what an amazing bunch of ‘kids’ the FRE Flyers were. I remember that feeling at the first training session with them and I’ve had that feeling ever since. It was the 10thApril 2015, playing on the Olympic hockey pitch at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, and there were people everywhere, crowd funders, founders, coaches, guests and Flyers. I felt a little scared at first but this was very short lived as the Flyers took me straight under their wing. I found myself in the thick of it, playing on the blue team, captained by Mike, and alongside two of the Beeston GB quintet Ollie Willars and Tim Whiteman, who were present at training that evening. I don’t even remember if we won or lost, but somehow the result didn’t matter. The feeling was like being caught in a slow motion playback – senses heightened, everyone smiling, working hard for the ball, for each other, their team, enjoying the raw qualities of a Friday night push around with a couple of mates down the local park. It just happened that this was the Olympic park, and it was theirs to own.

They collectively never cease to surprise me. For one reason alone that as a teenager, on a Friday night, I had a million places I’d rather be. But these kids turn out week in week out to train, to pick up a stick and run around for two hours, with friends and family. And they love it. You can tell they are a close group, with a lot of love and respect for each other, they look out for each other, defend each other, push and encourage each other and have a distinct desire to learn and get better whilst having fun. There are kids that battle with physical, mental and emotional challenges but are involved every week. To overcome such personal challenges to stand up in front of a group of their peers and coach the game you’ve been taught is a testament to how far these kids have come. And they are amazing!

Just another training session with the Flyers 

Mama Jo (Melchior) – organiser of all the flyers, sums it up nicely, saying something along these lines.

“You don’t have to be amazing at sport to enjoy it, there are so many other ways to be involved in sport than playing it. That’s what we do at the FRE Flyers, we encourage kids to be involved in any way they can”

From flying solo coaching the kids alone, to taking a team up to Birmingham playing two really tough games against
 Old Sihillians HC,  Orlton & West Warwick

supporting each other through good times and bad. Through this group I’ve found the real meaning of the #HockeyFamily.

Tomorrow we speak to Chris Grant, founder of the FRE Flyers and his story into the origins of this remarkable project. 

For more information about the FRE Flyers: 

Website :

: @FREFlyers 

Facebook: FRE Flyers Club

Virgin Money Giving
FRE Flyers fundraising