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Defroand determined to help hockey grow

PUBLISHED: 13:30 25 November 2018

Emily Defroand speaks at the SportsAid ball to announce the 2018 'One to Watch' award (pic Stephen Wright/Sportsbeat)

Emily Defroand speaks at the SportsAid ball to announce the 2018 'One to Watch' award (pic Stephen Wright/Sportsbeat)

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You might forgive Emily Defroand for cursing her timing when she arrived on the British hockey scene just months after Team GB claimed their ground-breaking gold at Rio 2016.

England's Emily Defroand during the Investec Internationals at Lee Valley Hockey Centre (pic Scott Heavey/PA)England's Emily Defroand during the Investec Internationals at Lee Valley Hockey Centre (pic Scott Heavey/PA)

But the former Coopers pupil, who was a member of England’s bronze-medal winning squad at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games earlier this year, is anything but; instead she’s grateful for the incredible exposure that the result has given her sport.

Heading into a busy 2019, the midfielder is eagerly anticipating a return to competitive action, linking back up with a team that now, given their success, will settle for nothing less than the best.

“I couldn’t have come in at a more exciting time for us as a squad. The girls’ success in 2016 was phenomenal; I think that will change our sport forever,” she said.

“We said from the start of this cycle that we want to win after win, and we want to defend our Olympic title.

Helen Richardson-Walsh and Emily Defroand with local youngsters at BecktonHelen Richardson-Walsh and Emily Defroand with local youngsters at Beckton

“That’s what drives us on every day in training, it’ll drive us on in the next two years coming up into Tokyo.

“It’s a great privilege to be involved in the squad straight after 2016, but it’s very much a forward focus now and hoping to continue that success.”

A bronze medal Down Under with England and defeat in the quarter-finals of their home Women’s Hockey World Cup by eventual champions the Netherlands, 2018 has left Defroand and her teammates thirsty for more.

But luckily there are plenty of opportunities to put all that right when 2019 rolls around, with the little matter of Tokyo 2020 appearing just over the horizon.

Emily Defroand with dad Dave and mum Gill in AustraliaEmily Defroand with dad Dave and mum Gill in Australia

“2019 poses a different challenge for us as a hockey squad,” she added.

“It’s the start of the FIH Pro-League, so the tournament structure changes from next year onward and I think that’s really exciting for us as a squad.

“I think the whole sport will become a lot more commercial, you’ll see it a lot more on TV. That’s a really exciting prospect for us as a squad to really kick on over the next two years into Tokyo.”

Defroand was speaking at SportsAid’s One-to-Watch award ceremony at London City Hall, at which boxer Caroline Dubois picked up the prize that counts Tom Daley and Morgan Lake as former winners.

And the 24-year-old – an alumnus of the charity – was delighted to celebrate the best of Britain’s upcoming sporting talent.

“I was in their position not too long ago and actually it’s refreshing to see such a talented bunch, and that was me only a few years ago,” she added.

“As a charity I don’t think there’s one as unique as SportsAid; they help fund young athletes’ dreams and I think it’s so important at events like this that we can show our support, not only for the charity but the athletes as well.”

*You can help support the next generation of British Olympians and Paralympians by making a regular or one-off donation to SportsAid. Visit sportsaid.org.uk/get-involved/make-a-donation/ for further information.

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