St Albans Hockey Club is delighted to welcome Nakira Downes as the club’s latest coaching and playing recruit. Downes, 26, is a striker who originates from Barbados where she captained the national Under-21 team from the age of 17 and became a full international aged just 18. In 2011 she won a full hockey scholarship to Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania where she went on to win many personal awards including the head coach’s award and a place in the Atlantic 10 All-Conference team.
A qualified PE teacher and Level 2 coach in the United States, Nakira went on to teach elementary, middle and high school PE in Philadelphia, and coached a senior girls high school team. She has coached at the US Futures Camp and on junior hockey camps, and has coached a number of other sports including athletics and lacrosse. She also volunteered for four years for the Make a Wish Foundation and is an experienced public speaker.
Nakira arrived in St Albans last week week. At SAHC she will be joining new head coach and Pakistan international Adnan Zakir as assistant coach for the ladies 1st XI, for whom she will also play. As a club development member she will have responsibility for heading up the Schools Project, as well as taking an active role in junior hockey coaching.
Ladies Club Captain Amie Hone said: “I am delighted to give Nakira a warm welcome. With her international playing career and her coaching experience, she is a perfect appointment for inspiring our junior players and will be a fantastic role model for all players both young and old.”
Head of Hockey Dillet Gilkes said: “Nakira is an avid young hockey player and lover of the sport who brings to us a new level of excitement and heart. Her time spent as a coach in the USA has reinforced her passion to inspire and teach children. Through this opportunity, Nakira will both continue as a top flight player and assist St Albans Hockey Club in its ever growing youth program.”
Nakira Downes said: “I am very happy to join St Albans and I already feel part of a wonderful family. It’s an honour to play again and coach alongside someone of Adnan’s calibre, and I’m very excited at the chance to coach and teach the youth”.