On the day Great Britain’s women’s and men’s teams found out who they will need to get past in order to earn a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, one of Britain’s rising stars offered her support to Carlisle Hockey Club.

Tess Howard, who only turned 20 in January, enjoyed a whirlwind 2018 which culminated with the midfielder being selected to make her Great Britain debut at the FIH Champions Trophy in China in November.

Howard impressed alongside fellow GB debutants Erica Sanders and Sarah Jones in a 2-2 draw against the hosts, as they eventually finished fifth at the tournament, beating Japan 2-1 in their final game.

This year, Durham University student Howard has continued her rapid rise with Great Britain, and will have hopes of featuring at her first Olympics next year - provided GB women’s get past Chile in November, while the men’s side will need to beat Malaysia to earn their spot.

But Howard put her international ambitions to the back of her mind as she headed to Austin Friars School on Monday night.

"My hockey roots are at club level, as well," she explains.

"I always found it really beneficial to have someone who has played hockey for their country to come and share their passion for it.

"Hopefully, I have been able to do that."

Despite studying geography at Durham, Howard came through the ranks at Cambridge City Hockey Club.

She emphasises: “I’m at Durham University. So, I would say I’m northern bred, even though I have a southern accent!

"The region means so much to me and I’m really passionate about making sure northern hockey gets as much coverage and as much help as it can get to develop in the future."

Firstly, Howard led a session for the juniors before Carlisle’s Ladies also took tips from Howard in a second one-hour masterclass.

"It’s fantastic. We have got a really good turn-out," enthuses Carlisle chairman Andy Bradbury.

"As a club, we have close connections with [Austin Friars] school and Tom [Leach] as president and me as club chairman, we both coach at the school here.

"We have a really good junior section, so this will, hopefully, only help to boost it. You can see, just from watching when she is doing her demonstrations, how they listen to Tess.

"It just comes from having that kudos of being an international, I think. I wish they listened as well to us when we are coaching!"

The juniors session saw just shy of 35 enthusiastic children turn up, before more than 20 Ladies were involved in the second session of the evening.

And Howard, who also has done similar events at Tynedale Hockey Club, North Shields, Durham Dales and Durham University Hockey Club recently, was thrilled with the good turn-out in Carlisle.

"Yeah, definitely. There are boys and girls here of all ages," Howard, who is supporting bandaging on her left hand to support an injury, enthuses.

"To see their enthusiasm when I teach them a new skill, and they get it, is just so rewarding and it’s such a privilege to be involved in that."

Bradbury adds: "Yeah, there are excellent numbers here for both the sessions. It’s all helping to boost hockey and boost the club, as well.

"We have done a lot recently. We had our HockeyFest event which was really well attended.

"When you can get some like Tess here, it’s fantastic for the profile of the club."

Following the completion of the junior session, Howard was mopped by Carlisle’s juniors, all keen to get her autograph and take a picture with her, and Howard concedes she is still coming to terms with her new-found fame.

She says: "A year ago, this is definitely not what was happening.

"I was watching the World Cup in the stands.

"It’s been a whirlwind for me, but I’ve always had the same mentality to help kids be able to play the game that we all love as best they can."

And Howard hopes her rapid rise will help to inspire more hockey stars in the North of England who might have dreams to, one day, follow in the footsteps of Sam Quek, Maddie Hinch and co, who helped Great Britain’s women side win a first Olympic hockey gold medal in Rio 2016.

"Hopefully it shows that, if you do work hard and your passion for hockey comes through, you can get to the top if that’s where you want to be – or, to be honest, just helps you to be as good as you can be," she says.

"That’s always been my drive."

The focus for this week’s lessons with the Carlisle youngsters, though, were on the basics of the game.

"It’s about learning how to play the game at a grassroots level, learning how to play it properly," she says.

"So, [I’m hoping to help teach] drop pass, aerials and little 3D skills.

"They don’t necessarily get that much technical input, but they are so important."