It was with great sadness that last week, that we announced the passing of ex-England and Great Britain captain, Celia Brackenridge.
Celia was a well-known, much-loved, and highly respected member within the lacrosse community and her illustrious career in the sport was matched by her academic and political work after moving on from the game.
English Lacrosse has received a great number of tributes for Celia and her involvement in the sport with acknowledgments coming from all around the world to share their memories.
Celia enjoyed a decorated lacrosse career, starting out at Lady Eleanor Holles, before moving through to Bedford College of Education and then Cambridge University, where sport and education continued to be her true passions, training as a Physical Education teacher and earning a BEd, with first-class honours.
By this time, Celia was a member of the England and Great Britain Women’s National Teams involving many internationals and tours, eventually having the honour of captaining the side, and was still part of the squad by the time of the inaugural Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in Nottingham in 1982.
After she retired from playing, Celia became further involved in coaching, including a stint as England Coach for the 1986 World Cup.
Her observation and analysis of performance positioned her to be one of the forerunners of performance analysis and facilitated discussion of match analysis in the 1980s, devising her own notation system with which to record lacrosse games and writing a number of books on the sport.
Celia’s experiences in sport fuelled a passion that saw her move further into undertaking academic and political work in the pursuit of equality in sport and was influential in founding the Women’s Sports Foundation UK.
She also carried out pioneering work on the sexual abuse and harassment of young athletes and footballers by their coaches in the 1980s and 90s; her research leading to further examination of the sexual, physical and emotional abuse of all athletes.
Her commitment to equality in sport connected Celia with a global network of colleagues who shared her passion for access, opportunity and protection; in 2001, working with the Football Association to assess the state of child protection at clubs, and to monitor a new FA strategy to protect junior players.
She was awarded an OBE for her services to Equality and Child Protection in Sport in 2012 and in 2013, was appointed as Child Protection Expert in the Dame Janet Smith Review of the BBC.
Everyone will no doubt carry their own personal stories and memories of Celia, reflecting on the way she influenced and inspired so many people, whether playing, coaching, or within her academic work.
On behalf of everyone in English Lacrosse, we would like to pass on our condolences to Celia’s family and friends; a remarkable woman who will be sorely missed.