Higgins plc junior and youth awards winners announced

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

The recipients of the Hockey Writers’ Club Higgins Group youth and junior player of the year awards for 2016 have been chosen with the presentations made at the annual awards presentation lunch on Wednesday January 25, 2017 at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, Knightsbridge, London.

Mr Richard Higgins, Chairman of the Higgins Group plc, will present the awards. The UK players of the year for 2016 will also be announced at the lunch.

The judging panel attended events including the England Hockey Futures Cup at St Albans in October. Information was also sought from coaches, with the judges considering not just hockey ability but players’ personal qualities and potential for future development.

Past winners of Higgins awards include Rio Olympic Games gold medalists Maddie Hinch and Sophie Bray.


Youth, Girls 18 and under – Kate Axford;
Youth, Boys 18 and under – Tim Nurse;
Junior, Girls 16 and under – Darcy Bourne;
Junior, Boys 16 and under – Alex Pendle;


Youth, Girls 18 and under – Kate Axford is already a double junior international having represented England at both hockey and lacrosse. The Bedford Girls’ School student won a bronze medal with England at the 2016 EuroHockey U18 Championships in Ireland last summer. Later in the year she co-captained the Saxon Tigers U18s to victory in the Futures Cup. She is in this year’s national age group squad and is again pushing for a place in the final England U18 selection. She previously represented England at U16 level. The 17-year-old [check!] defender/midfielder plays for Cambridge City Ladies in the premier division of the East Hockey League. She began hockey in the U12s at Southgate. In 2016 she played for England in the U19 lacrosse home internationals.

Youth, Boys 18 and underTim Nurse has already been capped seven times for England U18s having played in Holland, Scotland and Belgium in 2016. He also played 14 times for England at U16 level. In 2016 he captained the Wessex Leopards U18s in the Futures Cup. He is part of this year’s national age group squad and is again looking to gain a place in the final England U18 squad selection. The 17-year-old midfielder plays for Isca in the England Hockey League west conference. Previously Tim played for Bournemouth Hockey Club from U8s to U16s. He is a student at Queen’s College, Taunton. He previously attended the Ballard School in the New Forest.

Junior, Girls 16 and underDarcy Bourne began playing club hockey for Surbiton in 2012 at U11, making her first appearance for the ladies’ 1s team as a 13-year-old in a pre-season match against Mannheim in 2015. She played for Surbiton 1s again in the recent Super 6s tournament. Darcy has been in the Surbiton national cup winning team for four consecutive seasons at both U12 and U14, captaining twice. In 2016 she played for England U16s, a year young, culminating the Six Nations tournament in Belgium. “Stepping onto the pitch against Holland to earn my first international cap really lit a spark for me – it gave me a taste of what I hope for my future and made me want it even more,” she said. The 15-year-old also captained the Wessex Leopards U16 team to victory in the 2016 Futures Cup.

Junior, Boys 16 and underAlex Pendle began hockey as a four-year-old at Chichester Hockey Club and has progressed through the junior ranks to play for the club’s national league west conference side. The 15-year-old scored his first national league goal on debut in October 2016. He scored a hat trick for the Wessex Leopards in the final of the 2016 Futures Cup. He has since gained selection for the U16 national age group squad where he will compete for a place in the England U16 side. Alex is a student at Chichester High School where he also helps coach hockey.

These youth and junior awards are sponsored by the Higgins Group plc.