Charlotte out to inspire next generation of sporting stars

CUP WINNER: Sky Sports Living for Sports is a free secondary school initiative - to get Charlotte to your school, go to livingforsport.skysports.com

CUP WINNER: Sky Sports Living for Sports is a free secondary school initiative - to get Charlotte to your school, go to livingforsport.skysports.com

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As a Sky Sports Living for Sport athlete mentor, Charlotte Hartley fits the bill perfectly.

Burnley-born Charlotte has played top-level hockey since 2001, and recently returned to football.

She now shares her sporting experiences with youngsters in her role as an athlete mentor for Sky Sports Living For Sports and Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust.

And it’s fair to say she practices what she preaches.

Recently, Charlotte scored the equaliser as Bowdon Hightown beat Clifton 2-1 in the Investec National Hockey Final.

A day later, she helped inspire Burnley FC Ladies in their battle for North West Women’s Premier League survival with two impressive performances against City of Manchester, before scoring in a 2-0 win against Northwich Vixens to end fears of the drop.

Charlotte said of her love of sport: “I’ve played national league hockey for 12 years and helped Bowdon Hightown win the league four times. This year we finished fifth, which was slightly disappointing, however we managed to retain the National Cup.

“And I recently got back into football. I played when I was younger, but when I started competing internationally at hockey, I put all my focus into that, to be the best I could be.

“I’m back playing football with friends again and enjoying it. Despite not kicking a ball for 10 years, and only playing half a season, I won the manager’s player of the year award, which I was really chuffed with. But I’ll be trying a few other sports now the hockey season has finished until September. I like to keep fit - I get bored if I’m not busy.”

She is also passing on her experiences from a career which saw her win Commonwealth Games bronze with England, and gold in the 2005 KT Cup in Korea and 2007 Sydney Youth Olympics, before playing professionally in New Zealand and Spain: “I’m travelling to schools to tell my story and hopefully inspire youngsters to take up sport.

“I don’t tell my story to show off, just to say “this is what I’ve done, now what can you do?” It doesn’t necessarily need to be related to sport, but highlights the importance of taking opportunities, making good decisions and learning from your mistakes. It’s rewarding. I work alongside Olympic athletes and we recently signed up Jessica Ennis and David Beckham as Sky Sports Living For Sport Ambassadors. It’s great showing kids sport can be fun and change your life.

“I didn’t achieve my goal of making London 2012, as four years ago I decided to travel and play professionally in different countries, and although I would have given my right arm to play in the Olympics, all the decisions I have made have led me to where I am today.”