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Banda School Hockey Coaching camps held in January 2014

Since returning back to Kenya Crista is now looking to give something back to the sport she enjoyed for so long and what better way to do that than to teach kids with all of the proceeds going to charity. Please see the poster for details and feel free to fill out the contact us section on this website for any queries, failing that please email and we will respond to you within 48 hours. We very much look forward to having you on board with us at the coaching camp and hope you or your children find the experience beneficial to their hockey term. (Please click the links below for registration and indemnity forms).



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Five announce international retirements

Five members of the England and Great Britain hockey squads have today announced their retirements from international hockey. From the women’s squad, goalkeeper Beth Storry and penalty corner specialist Crista Cullen, both of whom won Olympic bronze at London 2012, have ended their international careers. And from the men’s squad, triple Olympian Ben Hawes, double Olympian Mark Pearn and Ken Forbes have announced their retirements from the very top level of the sport.

Thanking all five athletes for their contributions to the national team, England Hockey Performance Director Danny Kerry said: “Each of these athletes has in their own ways contributed massively to the national teams. The commitment they have each shown is testimony to their characters. We are very grateful for all they have given to the national teams and hockey in this country. I would personally like to wish them well with their future directions in life and I hope they will retain their links with us and the sport.”

For nearly a decade Crista Cullen (pictured right), 27, has been one of the best known stars of the women’s game, representing her country at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. A feared penalty corner specialist, the Lincolnshire-born defender has been listed in the World All Stars Team three times – in 2006, 2007 and 2010 – and played a pivotal role in England’s rise up the world rankings. She bows out on the back of winning Olympic bronze at London 2012 where she finished joint top scorer with four goals. Fittingly, she found the back of the net in the last of her 171 international appearances, against New Zealand in Great Britain’s historic 3-1 victory. It was her 56th international strike.

A fierce competitor, Cullen helped England to a first ever World Cup bronze medal in 2010, the Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy bronze medals in the same year, and four European Championship bronze medals in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011, In 2012, she helped Great Britain to the country’s best ever finish at a world level tournament – silver at the Champions Trophy.

Announcing her retirement from international hockey, Cullen said: “After much deliberation I have finally decided to hang up my stick. I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who played their part in my international career, no matter how big or small. Together as a united squad we were able to be a part of something amazing, of which I am very proud and will remember fondly as I move forward in my new challenges. I have no doubts that the new programme will have same the passion, fight and desire as the last and would like to wish everyone the very best of luck, I will, of course, be watching with interest from afar.”ever finish at a world level tournament – silver at the Champions Trophy.

Keen adventurer Cullen has returned to Kenya, where she spent much of her childhood, to pursue a Marketing and Sales Manager role for one of the leading security companies and exploring her deep passion for conservation, trying to do her part in helping fight the devastating massacre of elephants for ivory.

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Right to Play Tanzania

Since the games finished I have thrown myself into a number of charity projects all with links to my roots in Kenya. Firstly I have been an athlete ambassador for Right to Play a Canadian based charity for the last four years, gaining a more active role in the last two. This charity believes in educating deprived children through sport and play, with the motto, ‘every child has the right to play.’
Their projects range all around Africa working with orphaned or abandoned, HIV & aids suffers, or derelict areas. In October I visited Tanzania with the project and a fellow Olympian Mark Hunter (silver medalist rower). Being from Kenya and having experienced deep poverty, none of it was a real surprise, the project works with many schools with all volunteer based help. I guess this is where my understanding of seeing the project on the ground grew. People with nothing giving everything, not just in the schools but the various community projects in areas such a Morogoro (very poor district), they devote their lives to the happiness of children who’s futures are so uncertain.
The programme does not just offer funding which so many do, most of which is squallered by the middleman, what is offered is education through games and sport. A simple concept of tag mimicking that of malaria where a child is named the mosquito, and a number of them mosquito nets. If the child is chased they can roll up into a ball and have a mosquito net over them therefore cannot contract the disease. There is also a period of reflection afterwards to ensure that the messages of the games are engrained and good habits adopted. Seeing these children so happy, though so desperate underneath it all left a poignant message.

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Elephant Poaching – Galana Wildlife Conservancy

Elephants crossing the Galana RiverHaving been brought up in a family where my grandfather was a game ranger in the area post the 2nd world war the Galana Wildlife conservancy a 60,000 acre wildlife sanctuary holds a special place in my heart. Galana is one of the last truly unspoilt havens in Kenya for indigenous trees and wildlife, including many rare and endangered species. In addition, the conservancy is one of the last stores in Africa for big elephants with large tusks and the priceless genes and experience that they can pass on to the younger generation.

Previously the reserve had been protected from deforestation for charcoal and firewood and from poaching because it was such a well-guarded secret, and heavily protected both physically and politically by its previous ranch owners. It has recently come to the attention of poachers and the middlemen involved in the flourishing illegal ivory trade that Galana is a soft target, well stocked with large tusked elephants some in excess of 100lbs a side, with no armed security to protect them. A horrible truth that has seen 9 elephants slaughtered together in the conservancy by poachers with AK47 rifles, for their tusks, in the last month alone.

An example of the sadistic nature of Elephant Poaching

WARNING: THIS IMAGE IS VERY GRAPHIC. Please click for uncensored image.

Internationally the demand for illegal ivory has sky rocketed, a fact highlighted recently in the National Geographic Magazine, with the number of elephants poached and murdered in Africa this year having already surpassed the sum poached in the preceding 10 years. Despite its international ban, ivory is being sold openly in many parts of Japan, China and the Far East, with the authorities there turning a blind eye. Its acceptance there, and the ignorance of the people to the suffering of the elephants, has fuelled a surge of poaching that has been facilitated by the construction of major new road networks that pass close to the previously inaccessible elephant habitats and migration routes.

Currently, a scout costs the conservancy approximately US $220 per month (less than US $8 a day) inclusive of salary, accommodation, uniform, rations etc. The conservancy Land Rover and Tractor running costs average to US $1,100 per month. These vehicles are out everyday patrolling the reserve, grading the roads, and repairing the dams that have been built in the conservancy to catch and store some of the little, but very precious, rain that the conservancy gets. It is run as a not for profit Company with zero administration costs. It is run by volunteers, who give up their own personal time and money, to ensure that the conservancy stays open. We desperately need more manpower and equipment if we are to make a difference in this fight against illegal logging and the vicious, cruel slaughter of one the worlds last gentle giants and most socially developed animals in the world, second to ourselves.

The elephants, the other animals and the trees in Galana seriously need your help and protection. Please give us the tools that we so desperately need, and we will supply the toil. By increasing our scout numbers, training them, arming them, and equipping them with vehicles and basic radio equipment, the conservancy can be effectively patrolled and the poachers and illegal loggers taken head on and defeated.

On behalf of the elephants, trees and all the animals of Galana, I am asking for your help in anyway you can. Donations of money or equipment will be gladly received and will make a massive difference to the running of the conservancy, and the protection of the valuable species within it. Please visit us if you can and become involved in our re-forestation project to plant a million trees in the next 10 years, or support us by making us your number one safari destination and by staying in the luxurious conservancy camps on the Galana River. Please spread the word about the conservancy, and our plight to try save some of the last few large tusked elephants in Africa. Galana has been a secret for too long, our only chance to save the conservancy and the elephants, trees and animals within, is to make the world aware of what is about to be lost forever.

If any of these charities have touched your heart like they have done mine and you would like to donate or get involved, I would be delighted to hear from you.

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Hong Kong & Myanmar trip post Olympics

I got invited by the Hong Kong Football Club to go and visit them for two weeks with a cheeky break week to see Myanmar (Burma, where I have always wanted to go).  Whilst there I was lucky enough to coach both the Mens and Womens teams at the club who are in the premiership, and fall in and amongst the top two annually. They have a huge number of teams at the club all the way down to the G’s in each gender and so I was able to have an opportunity to work with all ages and abilities.

The Friday afternoon and Saturday morning sessions were filled with the HKFC youth section and the mini’s respectively. It is so great for our sport to have so many little ones running around enjoying the opportunities and challenges that being a hockey player brings. Huge groups of kids all eager to learn and with the facilities that they have available it is a great platform for them.  The aerial being turned into a scoop and as young as 8 years old giving the drag flicking technique a go, if only I started out that young!

My trip to Myanmar was an adventure fueled with lack of organisation and planning but a free spirit and a sense of adventure. Our first journey after arrival into Yangon was to get the train for a 16 hour journey across to Mandalay an experience that I will not forget in a hurry. I officially now love British trains, in comparison to the bouncing and being thrown around whilst trying to sleep that Myanmar offered. That set the tone for the trip, visiting beautiful pagodas, landmarks and the hustle and bustle of the cities by moped. I was in my element.

A short trip to Bagan by boat, seeing the more agricultural sites of Myanmar and then climbing Mount Popo, one of Bagans well know must see mountains with a huge amount of history and culture to learn on site. Finally to finish with some sun, sea and sand at the Nagapali beach for some real R&R before our return to the busy streets of Hong Kong.

On getting back I was busy visiting delightful schools such as German-Suisse and Harrow a new school in the new territories, with a fair share of University coaching and of course bits with the Football club.

Thank you to all who made my trip so enjoyable, I had a brilliant time out there and everyone was so warm and welcoming. It is a great place to visit!

Crista Cullen with HKFC Mini Hockey Players

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An unforgettable experience – SRI’s Crista Cullen speaks about her London Olympics campaign 24/08/2012

Ashley Ball, Crista Cullen and Sally Walton - London 2012 Womens Hockey SelectionBy Jamie Fakes

Sports Recruitment Group had their own sense of Olympic pride when the London Olympics came to a close with researcher and marketing assistant Crista Cullen claiming bronze as part of the British women’s hockey team.

It could well have been a gold medal play off for the highly confident home team but after a controversial goal to Argentina put an end to their hopes of victory in the semifinals, they were quick to regroup ahead of their bronze medal clash with New Zealand.

While the first half of the playoff resulted in no goals for either side, the second half proved to be all about the Brits as they fired their way to a 3-1 lead by the close of the match.

Reflecting on both the semi final and bronze medal playoff, Cullen said the team demonstrated great strength and determination to claim the first women’s hockey medal for Great Britain in the last 20 years.

“The semi was definitely the hardest match when the final goal was so controversial but winning that bronze just showed the resilience and character of the team,” she said.

“We had a review of the game, looked at the negatives and positives, then just had to draw a line under it; ultimately we still had a medal to play for.”

The team had placed great pressure on themselves in an effort to reach their peak performance to impress at the once in a lifetime home Olympics and such efforts were recognised throughout.

While Cullen had also competed as part of the team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she said the support of a home crowd made every match one she would never forget.

“We had played the finals of the champions trophy, which is the top eight teams in the world, before but this was definitely our biggest match. To play in front of 16,000 screaming fans every match was just amazing,” she said.

“At the London Games, I think everyone just wanted to be a part of any sport they could and that made for incredible support for GB in every game.

“I think it was great for the exposure of the sport. So many more people have picked up a stick as a result and that’s what it’s all about; you want people of all ages playing this amazing sport.”

Bronze Medalist, Crista Cullen with Sport Recruitment InternationalThe atmosphere on field was matched by celebrations at the opening and closing ceremonies that left the whole world talking. For Cullen, these were moments that would never be forgotten.

“Walking out into the stadium, with thousands and thousands of supporters there cheering for you, it was had to describe, I was just so proud,” she said.

“The closing ceremony was very different, you had all of the athletes from different countries intermingled. It was pretty amazing having George Michael walking right past you and to see the Spice Girls flying past on top of the cars was something you don’t forget.”

Returning to the office could seem like a drag to many after such an unmatchable experience but at Sports Recruitment Group’s UK office, the celebrations and congratulations kept on going.

“It was really cool walking in, everyone has been so supportive over the three years and for that I am eternally grateful. We just all celebrated and everyone wanted a photo with the medal; that’s when you realize it means so much to everybody.

“I’ve been so lucky to work somewhere that’s been so flexible and understanding about my ambition, so that I could still manage all of the training that’s required. SRI has truly helped me fulfill my childhood dream and now I am now an Olympic medalist, thank you. ”

After 10 years at the elite level, Cullen iss uncertain as to whether she will pursue a third Olympic campaign in 2016 with the first priority being a return home to family in Kenya to reflect on an unforgettable experience.

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Reflecting on the Investec London Cup 2012

Crista Cullen, injured, enjoys spending with all her fans during the Investec London Cup 2012Well on reflection it was not where we wanted to finish of course but there are a number of positives that we can take forward into our last 6 weeks of preparation for the London Olympic Games. We generated a number of valuable opportunities in a number of the games and we need to be more clinical. We will return to the training ground now and fine tune to that effect and that will help us achieve our ambitions come the 27th July 2012.

Our tournament campaign started with our match against South Africa, unfortunately due to injury a number of our players named in the 16 for the Olympic Games could not take part. Alex Danson, Kate Walsh, Sarah Thomas and myself we were left to watch from the pitch side. Credit to the South Africans, they came out all guns blazing and we found ourselves 2-0 down after 10 minutes. Our girls fought back in the second half and showed some real character that we will need at the Olympics, gaining a number of opportunities that unfortunately went begging. The game finished 3-1 with a lot to do against the Germans to get us into the semi finals.

Crista Cullen, injured, loves the supports face painting effort during the Investec London Cup 2012

The game against Germany started very positively, with GB on the front foot, knowing that we had to win by two clear goals for a semi final spot. Natasha Keller demonstrated why she is still firmly in the world eleven with some influential play culminating in a goal for the Germans. Another followed soon after, so we went into the half time break 2-0 down. GB earnt a number of penalty corners but we struggled to convert, some sublime play demonstrated with Hannah Macleod managing to pull one goal back late on in the second half. Opportunities were plenty and therefore we cannot be disheartened at this stage, they will go in, if we are able to keep generating this many chances! The game finished 2-1 and therefore we found ourselves in the 5/6th play off against the Irish on the Sunday. Not where we wanted to be, but a job to do all the same.

A credit to the GB girls here with some great individual skills from Suzie Gilbert to give Hannah Macleod a well timed finish, to open the account against the Irish.

Giant Crista bilboards are all over the Investec London Cup 2012 Venue

Another goal closely followed similar to the last also from Hannah, and finally Emily Maguire getting her first goal for GB to finish off the game at 3-0. Anne Panter received her 50th GB cap and Laura Bartlett her 100th combined international cap, so huge congratulations to them as well.

Finally on reflection, it was not where we wanted to be. There is no time to rest on your laurels you have to believe in the process and know how much work we have done to get ourselves in the best shape possible for the start of the London Games. What an exciting 6 weeks we have ahead!

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Land Rovers UK support Crista’s love for the Defender

Crista Cullen with her Land Rovers UK Defender - London GB Team MemberA Land Rover is like Africa it is in your blood, and owning a Defender makes you feel like part of a family. The welcome wave whilst passing other Defenders as you are on your way to another hard training session, is a nice touch. With the Olympic Games fast approaching travelling my daily commute through Richmond Park to Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre, I could not fit in better. It definitely has a wow factor, it is not the typical vehicle that an athlete chooses but for me it could not be a better fit, the ‘defender with a Defender.’

Much like the attributes that any sports defender holds, so too does the Land Rover Defender. You have to have a never give up attitude and the ability to compete in any environment, the Land Rovers versatility demonstrates this in masses.Being brought up in Africa an outdoor safari lifestyle has been a way of life and therefore what better car to have off road than a Land Rover? From watching the Massai Mara migrations, to trekking through endangered forest with mud-thickened mountains the Land Rover was always a perfect solution to an adventure fuelled camping trip. It doesn’t help that the roads in Kenya are not the best to say the least with potholes dotted all around, Land Rovers and their suspension is always a welcome change from the average saloon car that normally travels the highways.

Land Rovers UK - Defender for a defender in Africa

My normal week has me carting hockey equipment, coaching stuff and generally extra personnel and the spacious landy makes you always feel that there is ample room for just a few more things. Suddenly you find yourself being phoned up and asked if you can assist in a moving of house, in any ‘normal’ car that would be ten loads, in the Land Rover that would just be the one. Not only is the Land Rover very practical I find that I travel in comfort, gone are the days when Land Rover were notoriously known as uncomfortable vehicles to travel long distances. This may be due to the added bonus of the heated seats, which has been known to keep me warm on many a cold winters evening.

Safety is always of the utmost importance and their hardy robust nature is such a plus when you are travelling tired from training. Having had a Defender 110 now for the last six months I can say that I have never felt safer on the road.

From a young age I always wanted to own a Landrover Defender and would like to thank Land Rovers UK for supporting me in my dream. Now the next thing to do is to fulfil my other lifetime ambition to fight for an Olympic gold medal in London 2012.


Land Rovers UKLand Rovers UK buy Land Rover Defenders, restore Land Rover Defenders, sell Land Rover Defenders, and export Land Rover Defenders! If you wish to find out more please visit Land Rovers UK

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Crista Opens the ‘Right to Play 5km Run’ At Battersea Park, London

Right to play held a 5k run in Battersea Park to raise money for children all around the world. The entry fee was a mere £25 and for that one child somewhere in the world will be provided with sport and play for a whole year. It was a huge honour to open the run for such an amazing cause that is held so close to my heart. Great numbers showed up too for the event that we are looking to grow year on year, with 250+ this year who knows what numbers we can get in the future! The weather was great and everyone was in great spirits, please keep us in mind for next year, it will be bigger and better!There were a number of great sponsors that joined us on the day, with a special mention to vita coco who gave a coconut juice to everyone that finished. This replenished all of the electrolytes lost in a natural juice!All of the GB Hockey girls kindly signed a Grays stick with a Great Britain flag on it. It was donated to the runner who raised the most amount of money for this great cause. The total raised for the day was £50,000 not bad for our first year… and here is to more money for the worthy cause in years to come.

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GB Olympian, Crista Cullen, opens Prior’s Field’s School’s All-Weather Pitch

GB Hockey Player and Olympian Crista Cullen unveiled the new all-weather sports pitch at Prior’s Field on Saturday. The Leicester player, who will be competing in the London 2012 Olympics, gave pupils an hour and a half’s coaching on the pitch before cutting the ribbon on a wooden plaque that had been crafted by Fifth Form Design and Technology students at the school.

In an affecting speech, she encouraged girls to believe in their own abilities, to persevere in the face of obstacles and make the most of the wonderful facilities available to them at school.

The all-weather pitch is the latest in a series of sporting developments at Prior’s Field, including the construction of a new sports hall, an outdoor heated swimming pool and the launch of an Elite Tennis Academy in 2011 for pupils of exceptional tennis potential who are seeking to play at national or international level.

In its 2011 Report, the Independent Schools Inspectorate graded Prior’s Field ‘excellent’ across all categories, including quality of achievement, teaching, pastoral care, boarding and links with parents. The school is in the top 1% of all schools nationally for value-added achievement at GCSE and A-level.

Crista Cullen - In all things be your best

"In all things, be your best"

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