England stars make a Splash in Sheringham

Council leader Tom FitzPatrick joins England dodgeball players Lauren Hems and Holly Edmonds in the

Council leader Tom FitzPatrick joins England dodgeball players Lauren Hems and Holly Edmonds in the gym at Splash. Also pictured are Councillor Becky Palmer and general manager Stephen Mews. Picture: ALLY McGILVRAY - Credit: Archant

Leisure chiefs show their support for dodgeball players.

They may have represented their country at the first Dodgeball World Cup in Manchester earlier this year.

But 18-year-olds Holly Edmonds and Lauren Hems, from Briston, revealed they still had to pay their own way in the sport - including much of their own kit.

They are part of the England Lions Ladies dodgeball team about to travel to the European Championships in Paris which take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

And the duo, who learnt the game during their time at Reepham High School and College, are completing a strength and conditioning regime as part of their development programme, which requires regular access to a fully equipped fitness facility.

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To show their support for the teenagers, North Norfolk District Council and the council's leisure operator, Places for People, have teamed up to offer both players free gym passes at Splash Leisure and Fitness Centre in Sheringham.

Holly said: 'It was an absolute honour to represent our country for the first time.

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'At the moment, dodgeball does struggle with sponsorship because the sport doens't have as high a profile so we have to pay for our kit and accommodation, but hopefully in the future we will get more funding so we won't have to pay for as much ourselves.'

And she added: 'This support is helping us achieve our dreams. Being able to challenge our bodies means we can take dodgeball to the next level; by getting stronger we can be the best we possibly can be.'

The council said it was not the first time it had supported locally based international athletes and pointed out the teenagers were helping to put the area on the map.

Councillor Becky Palmer, the local authority's Cabinet Member for Leisure, said: 'We are delighted to be able to provide support to two young ambitious international players who are in the process of building their sporting careers.

'Dodgeball is a fast paced, highly physical sport which requires specialist conditioning. And we wish Lauren and Holly good luck at the European Championships in the next few days.'

Stephen Mews, General Manager Splash Leisure and Fitness Centre, added: 'It's fantastic we can support two local athletes. It is often difficult to get funding in sports and we are happy to support any local sporting talent.'

Holly and Lauren revealed they had to juggle their training commitments round their work but hoped to go on to university later this year and represent their country in the Home Nations tournament in November.

England manager Johnathan Rudland said: 'It is vital for our players to have access to the best facilities to complete their strength and conditioning programme and it's fantastic that North Norfolk District Council and People for Places have been able to support some of our team in such a way.

'Both Lauren and Holly have the potential to be a part of the England squad for many years ahead and this kind of support will help them progress as young athletes.'

You can follow England Lions Dodgeball on Facebook: www.facebook.com/englandlionsdodgeball/

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