The Hockey Writers’ Club youth and junior awards for 2021 were presented to four new rising stars of the game at the annual awards lunch on Friday March 25th at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge, London.
The four new inductees of the prestigious awards, sponsored by Hockey World News, follow in the footsteps of past winners, and Olympic champions, Maddie Hinch and Sophie Bray.
Maddie Axford, Youth, Girls U18 (University of Nottingham)
Yuvraj Bhuhi, Youth, Boys U18 (Barford Tigers HC, Beauchamp College)
Sofia Martin, Junior, Girls U16 (Southgate HC, Queenswood School)
Harry Stone, Junior, Boys U16 (Repton HC, Repton College)
To determine the four winners, the judging panel solicited information from coaches and regions. This year’s awards are the first to be held since the pandemic in 2020.
Winners of the Hockey Writers’ Club
Sofia Martin, Junior, Girls 16 and under (Southgate HC, Queenswood School)
Sofia was a Tottenham Hotspur women’s player from the age of nine until she left the club’s WSL academy last year. She was later signed by Watford FC’s women’s reserves team, where she is currently working on her fitness. However, faced with an increasingly demanding schedule, she has chosen hockey over football in the aftermath of her England breakthroughs.
Sofia began training with Southgate HC as a junior and went on to win county honours with Middlesex before being selected for England under-16s as a 14-year-old. The midfielder competed in national under-18 trials and is now playing above her age group after being chosen to represent England women at the upcoming FIH Junior World Cup in South Africa. Sofia has impressed her club because of her dedication to coaching the minis section at Southgate. Her main goal is to compete in an Olympic Games for Great Britain Hockey.
“Sofia is a player with many already elite-level attributes,” said John Bell, England’s under-18 head coach. Her talent on the field is obvious to all, but the focus and effort, resilience and adaptability she demonstrates both on and off the field, will be critical factors in supporting her desire to represent at the highest level.”
Maddie Axford, Youth, Girls 18 and Under (University of Nottingham)
Maddie participated in a variety of sports throughout her high school career, and her abilities have been on display this season, as she has scored in 14 of her first 14 games for University of Nottingham in Division 1 North. For the first time, the team will compete in the Women’s Premier Division.
She attended Bedford Girls’ School and played junior hockey at Southgate HC, where she won the under-18 club finals, before moving to Cambridge City for two seasons under coach Helen Richardson-Walsh.
Maddie comes from a hockey-crazed family: her sister Kate is a member of the England/GB senior squad and won the Hockey Writers’ Award in 2016. Her brother Charlie is also on the Elite Development Programme. The forward is now a member of England’s women’s squad for the FIH Junior World Cup.
“As an under 18, establishing herself in the Great Britain Elite Development Programme, gaining selection for a U21 Junior World Cup, and scoring freely in the English Hockey League all suggest that Maddie has a bright future,” England’s under-21 head coach Simon Letchford said. Maddie’s attributes make her a valuable asset in any team, as she possesses great skill, pace, directness, and immense goal scoring capability.”
Harry Stone (Repton HC, Repton College) Junior, Boys 16 and under Sponsored by Hockey World News
As a nine-year-old, Harry began playing hockey at Warwick HC. At the age of 12, he played for Warwickshire County and was selected for the under-14 UK Lions squad. In 2019, he was the tournament MVP for the Pennine Pumas at the Futures Cup. He made his England under-16 debut against Ireland a year later, while also winning the under-16 club championship with Repton. The centre midfielder has captained England’s under-16s and, more recently, England’s under-18s, and has been selected for an upcoming Five Nations tournament. On Sundays, he participates in Repton minis, while at senior level, he made his Super 6s Premier Division indoor debut with Repton.
“Harry has been a force of nature on and off the pitch,” England under-16 boys’ coach James Culnane said. His leadership and drive aided the England U16s in navigating a pandemic, and his performances galvanised them throughout their international summer. A gifted midfielder with the ability to break down defences with speed and skill.”
Yuvraj Bhuhi, Youth, Boys 18 and Under (Barford Tigers HC, Beauchamp College) Sponsored by Hockey World News
Yuvraj used to play basketball as a kid and then transitioned to football goalkeeping. Harvinder, his hockey coach father, stated that Yuvraj was “always getting nosebleeds in goal” because of his dedication to fighting for the ball! As an under-10, he was invited to Leicester City’s football academy, but he switched to hockey full-time at the age of 14 as part of a successful Leicester HC team. He quickly transferred to Barford Tigers and has been playing in the National League since he was 15 years old. The Tigers are on the verge of being promoted to Division 1.
Yuvraj made his England under-21 debut against Malaysia at Lee Valley last September, and he now hopes to enrol at Loughborough University in September to study bioengineering. He also coaches alongside his father in the Leicester area, and Yuvraj’s older brother, Rohan, is an EDP player.
Yuvraj has been described as having “excellent levels of performance” by his England under-18 coach Mark Bateman, and has handled the transition between the two age groups, at under-18 and EDP level, with solid commitment to the programmes.
Roll of Honour
UK YOUTH AND JUNIOR AWARDS
2004 Rebecca Herbert; Darren Cheesman
2005 Nikki Kidd; Ashley Jackson
2006 Maddie Hinch; Dan Barstow
2007 Sophie Bray; Liam Doidge
2008 Alice Sharp; Ben Arnold
2009 Sarah Haycroft; David Condon
2010 Alice Sharp; Andy Bull and Harry Martin
THE YOUTH AWARD (Age 18-and-Under)
2011 Martha Baker; Joe Sharp
2012 Emily Defroand; Luke Taylor
2013 Rebekah Walker; Chris Proctor
2014 Holly Hunt; Liam Sanford
2015 Charlotte Calnan; Toby Reynolds-Cotterill
2016 Kate Axford; Tim Nurse
2017 Hannah Griggs; Matthew Ramshaw
2018 Beth Wood; Jordan Lake
2019 Raphaella Robeson; Ben Wall
THE JUNIOR AWARD (Age 16-and-Under)
2011 Joanna Leigh; James Albery
2012 Charlotte Daly; Conor Caplan
2013 Alice Wills; Jack Turner
2014 Lizzie Neal; Jack Whelan
2015 Ellie de Heer; Josh Pavis
2016 Darcy Bourne; Alex Pendle
2017 Maddie Goodman; Xavier Teyletche
2018 Aimee Plumb; Ellis Robson
2019 Claudia Swain; Thomas Leadlay