Get your kit ready! Meet the stars of this year's Festival of Sport

Young boy facing away from camera tries to score penalty against former Norwich City footballer, Dean Ashton

Former NCFC player Dean Ashton will also be taking part in coaching - and is looking forward to learning a few things himself - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

Where might you be able to meet more Olympians, World champions and international sports stars in one place this summer outside of Tokyo? You might be surprised to hear that the answer is right here in Norfolk. 

Between August 13-15, Festival of Sport at Holkham Estate will play host to a plethora of current and former international sports stars, who are coming together to inspire kids to get involved, play sport and have fun – whatever their sport or ability. 

Expert rugby coaching will be delivered under the guidance of Mike Tindall, Rachael Burford, Conor O’Shea and ex-Springbok captain Bobby Skinstad, as well as festival founders themselves, Will Greenwood and Austin Healey. That’s almost half a dream team in a single sports zone! 

Sports coach raising arms in the air in front of line of primary-aged pupils dressed in sports clothes

Coaching at Festival of Sport, which will be held at Holkham Estate from August 13-15, will cater to every ability - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

How about learning to row from double Olympic gold medallist Anna Watkins, or being taught how to take the perfect short corner by gold medal winning hockey player, Alex Danson? 

Rio 2016 Olympian Amy Tinkler will also be on hand to share some of the skills that earned her a bronze medal in the gymnastics floor exercises at just 16 years of age. 

The netball zone boasts not one, but FOUR ex-England international players. Tamsin Greenway, Karen Atkinson, Pamela Cookey and Karen Grieg will be taking to the court to give advice and tips on playing the game, and parents should keep an eye on the schedule, as there’s bound to be the chance to pick up a netball and join in a game alongside these star players. 

Former West Ham and Norwich City striker Dean Ashton can show you the perfect finish in front of goal, and if you’re lucky, you may even be able to slide it past former Liverpool legend Chris Kirkland.  

Despite years spent at the highest level, Dean is excited about bringing his family to Holkham and getting down to some grass roots sport. 

“Living in Norfolk, I know it’s a superb venue for it to be hosted at, and with kids aged 13 and 11 myself, I understand what a fantastic opportunity it is for kids to be active while meeting some amazing people from the world of sport and beyond,” he says.  

“I’m really looking forward to meeting and watching one of the world’s best female freestyle footballers, Charlotte Lade-Rogers, and to learn something new myself!” 

Norfolk tennis player in hitting a ball with a tennis racquet at indoor sports venue

Norfolk tennis player Olivia Nicholls will be taking part at Festival of Sport this summer - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

Also representing the local region are England amputee goalkeeper Kieran Lambourne, international triathlete Kimberley Morrison and current ATP double tennis player Olivia Nicholls.  
Olivia, who is from Norfolk, says she’s really looking forward to being involved – especially after the past few months. 

“Lockdown has impacted young people’s sport massively,” she says. “They lost up to a year of physical activity, which might have damaged their confidence and decreased their motivation for sport now restrictions have eased. 

“I hope that Festival of Sport will bring the kids together and remind them how much fun it is to be active with their friends.” 

Having fun is the overall aim of the event, and coaching is structured to suit all abilities and talents – so don’t think for one minute that your child has to be a budding world champ to join in. Beginners up to the most proficient athletes will be well catered for. 

Professional female trampolinist suspended in air against blue sky and over trampoline net with arms spread

World's synchronised trampolinist Amanda Parke will be at this year's Festival of Sport - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

As well as the usual sports your kids might learn at school, the festival also offers the chance to have a go at something new – archery, dodgeball, futsal, kayaking, battle games, to name a few. There are no VIP areas at Festival of Sport, so you may even find yourself camping next to one of these sporting greats! 

And it's not all for the kids, either. If you’re harbouring that gnawing feeling that you missed your chance at sporting glory, there will be plenty of adults vs legends matches to get involved in, so dig out your boots, dust down that hockey stick and start limbering up. Despite retirement in many cases, this lot are still pretty fit! 

To find out more about the event, visit

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