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What it Takes to Play for Your Country

The last few articles I have written I have concentrated on the team, the coaches and the things we’re doing as a team. What I haven’t done yet is shared with you some of the more personal, stories about our team.

As with the majority people in hockey we are all amateurs & volunteers….where would our sport be without volunteers?! We are incredibly lucky in our sport to have so many amazing volunteers, yes there are a small number of people who are paid for their roles within the sport in the UK & Northern Ireland, but there are literally thousands who are not….thousands, like many of you reading this article, you do it “for the love of the game”. Our girls are certainly no exception. But what does it take to play for your country.

Asking the players this question it is no surprise to hear the words commitment, dedication, pride & passion….and having managed these girls for 6 years now I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, no matter what the final results are in any of our games, all our girls have committed and dedicated themselves to playing for our country. But by far the biggest thing that I would like to share with you about our journey is about the sacrifice it takes to play for your country.

I recently asked the girls the question of what has been their biggest sacrifice for this team, you maybe surprised by the answers. One player replied “My job”. Many employers are reluctant to give annual leave for players – and without the support of employers, our girls would not be able to play. I have written a number of letters to schools, colleges, universities and employers in support of athlete’s requests for annual leave, these letters either make or break the dreams of our girls. Thankfully most are supportive, but some are not. Finding an employer who will support an amateur athlete or staff members dreams is often not an easy task. So if you have athletes, even young ones in your employ, and they ask for time off to compete, just ask yourself where that path is ultimately leading…what dream does that child or adult have? They may not have shared it with you, but take time to ask, you never know what you may find out and what your business may gain from having an elite athlete on its staff.

Alice Lamb, a GB player of 7 years knows all too well the sacrifices she has had to make in her life, in fact “too many to count”, but she also added that in return “hockey has brought a lot of dedication and a hard work ethic to my life”. A newcomer to the team in 2011, Jenny Bolton is no stranger to sacrifice, but on talking about the sacrifice that both her and her family have made for “uncountable social occasions such as birthdays, parties, reunions and holidays”.

I’m sure the phrase “I’m sorry, I can’t, I have Hockey” is a familiar one for most, but for Great Britain players they do this on top of their other commitments at club level too, so if you’re reading this and thinking that one day you’d love to be able to play for your country, the first thing we would all say to you is to look deep inside you and decide what your dream is, then ask yourself truthfully what you are willing to give for your dream. Talk to your family, share your dream with them and make sure you have their fully support, because it’s not just you who will sacrifice things. Your family will sacrifice you too, and they will need to be fully behind your decision.

But ask us all whether the sacrifice is worth it, the one thing we would all resoundingly say to you all is that if you make that sacrifice, if you give the same heart, dedication and commitment that we all put into our team and to our hockey, you will undoubtedly come to know that what appears to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment you will ever make.

So a huge thank you to all our families, friends, employers, team mates, clubs and teachers who give us their blessing to sacrifice what we need to for our dream of playing for Great Britain. Without your support this dream would not be possible…..and who knows where our dreams will lead!

Article written for “British Hockey Review”


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