On Friday July 15th 2022, Hockey Wales hosted its first Cap Celebration Event. During the evening, caps were awarded to former international players as part of Hockey Wales’ heritage project.
Guests travelled from all over the UK with their friends and family to receive their caps, showing how much the evening meant to everyone.
Hockey Wales CEO Ria Burrage-Male opened the evening with a speech centred on how the project had developed from a personal desire and passion to reward those who had represented their country. The desire has now grown and flourished into what will be a 2-year heritage project across Wales.
Sheila Morrow, Great Britain Hockey President, then spoke around the success of our sport in Wales and Great Britain, before Simon Clark, Founder of Speakeasy Club, hosted a player Q&A panel.
On the panel was current Welsh/GB player and most capped Welsh athlete Leah Wilkinson, and former Welsh and GB players Bryn Williams and Sheila Morrow. Each shared their stories of playing for Wales, paying tribute to their debut games and their journeys to representing Wales and GB.
Then began the main event - the cap awards! Decade by decade, athletes were awarded their first international cap for representing Wales. First up was Eirianwen Thomas, who began her international career back in the 1950’s.
Sheila Morrow, Leah Wilkinson, and Hockey Wales President Martyn Gallivan took turns presenting players with their caps. The pride and passion were evident for every single athlete.
Phil Bailey, one of Hockey Wales’ historians working on the heritage project, gave a speech on the need for Hockey Wales alumni to support the project and ensure accurate historical records are gathered. They need former athletes to check their playing records are correct, as well as fill in a few missing gaps.
Rounding the evening up, Hockey Wales Business Support Officer and Heritage Project Lead Alice Gregory spoke on the wider heritage project that the evening was a part of. Highlighting the partnerships with schools to educate pupils on historical data and how to digitise data, as well as the possibilities to work with ex-internationals to produce interviews on behalf of Hockey Wales.
As the evening concluded, the room was a buzz as everyone caught up with old friends, teammates, and team managers.
Alice said “The evening was a once in a lifetime experience for these former athletes. The love, passion and pride that filled the room was enough to inspire a generation of future players.”
“The best thing about the evening was that it’s only the start of what we hope to be a very successful project, where we will continue to celebrate the success of all our athletes and build on these relationships to reunite the Welsh hockey family.”
If you used to play hockey for Wales, get in touch with HockeyHistory@hockeywales.org.uk to share your story and see if you qualify for a Welsh cap.