Young hockey players from clubs and a school in Norfolk and north Suffolk were given expert coaching to improve their skills when they were visited by a Dutch international hockey player who played a starring role at the Olympics.

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Children from Norwich School and hockey clubs, including Brandeston Hall and Harleston Magpies were given a coaching session by Mink Van Der Weerden, a penalty corner specialist and silver medal winner with the Netherlands at London 2012.

The training day, held at Harleston Magpies hockey club at Shotford Heath, Weybread on Wednesday, was one of two summer camps organised by the organisation Living Hockey, the first session having taken place the previous day at Norwich Dragons hockey club.

Living Hockey was set up by former Australia international Todd Williams and former England and Great Britain captain Brett Garrard and specialises in bring the best hockey players and coaches from around the world to their camps.

At the Harleston session, the Dutch player, who scored eight goals in the Olympics including one in his country’s 9-2 semi-final thrashing of Great Britain, taught the youngsters some of his skills including dribbling and the drag flick, which he specialises in.

He said: “We are trying to teach the children new skills, but also to have fun as well when they are playing. For me, it is about them having fun, but also having a good touch on the ball to enable them to play quickly in areas of the game.”

He was also full of praise for the British men’s team, despite the 9-2 defeat, saying they were all skillful players, but the Netherlands just played very well on the day.

Mr Williams, who played in defence for Australia and now coaches at English Premier League club Surbiton, believed more emphasis was needed on encouraging younger players’ skills from an early age in English coaching to enable them to develop into more rounded team players.

He drew parallels between the situation in English hockey and football, where too often the England national team struggles against more technically gifted international teams, such as Spain.

He added: “The thing with Living Hockey is that it is a really cool way for players to catch up with each other and get the best players in the world to do coaching. Mink has brought his silver medal with him and the kids absolutely loved seeing that. He is a really good coach and has taught the children a lot of skills.”

For more information about Living Hockey, visit www.livinghockey.org or call Living Hockey on 07515 881178.

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