2017 marked the 9th successive year England (or GB) women have medalled in a major championship. This time it was a Bronze in the European Championships in Amsterdam.
We arrived back at London Heathrow this week, all a little groggy and tired from a long summer. Alongside my tiredness was a hint of disappointment too. I left England wanting to return with a Gold medal not a Bronze but it wasn't too be. I could spend hours analysing where and how it went wrong for us, thinking about the 'what if's' and would still not come out with a concrete answer. I've learnt that reflecting is good but too much is counter productive. I'll allow myself to think and mull over the last 2 weeks for the next few days but then will 100% switch off from hockey and make sure I can enjoy my 2 week holiday to Bali. Mental and emotional recovery is just as important as physical.
Each game we played out in Amsterdam will stick with me for different reasons. I've decided to document my thoughts and learnings from the tournament.
4 -1 victory. England vs Ireland in sport is more than a game - it involves a historical rivalry. Ireland ran us close back in the HWL in July so we knew it was going to be hard. What I loved most about this game was the fact that the stadium was still pretty full and supportive of the game. The Netherlands weren't playing for a good couple of hours meaning usually you'll be playing in front of a few travelling fans. Debrief notes: good start, Ireland couldn't match our speed and intensity
1 - 0 loss. You could say potentially the game that cost us a place in the final. Had a lot of chances but couldn't find the net to bring us back on level terms against an early German goal. Debrief notes: our attitude and body language showed we never stopped believing we could win the game. This was echoed by a journalist who interview me after the game. Big step forward for us as a group.
2 -0 win. Another game which is more than just a game and always has an edge to it. We could have scored more goals however the win meant we were in the semi finals vs The Netherlands. Job done. Debrief notes: dominated the game in terms of chances and circle entries.
vs The Netherlands
1- 0 loss. One of the closest games I have been involved in vs the Dutch. If only we had scored during our dominant second quarter display... Debrief notes: the game where everyone grew in confidence and stature. Nobody was phased by the 10,000 strong dutch crowd. Bodes well for the World Cup at home in London in 2018. A game and atmosphere I won't forget in a while.
Vs Germany (part 2)
2 - 0. Won the bronze medal. Bittersweet feeling going into this game. Half of me was hurting and wanted to be in the final and half of me was focussed on 100% not walking away from this tournament empty handed - you do NOT want to finish 4th. Debrief notes: not our best game by a long stretch but showed the mental and physical resilience to win our last game.
Debrief done. It's early on in the Olympic cycle where arguably the processes and performances are more important than results Looking back, we, as a squad, made good strides. We played well but can play better. The calendar is busy for the next few months and we have many opportunities to grow as a team and win some medals. BT Sport are continuing to show our sport live on TV so if you can't be there, tune in. Thanks for all the support this summer - especially those who were in the stands in Amsterdam. We could hear you all tournament!
November 2017 - World League Finals in New Zealand
April 2018 - Commonwealth Games in Australia
July 2018 - World Cup in London (tickets here until September 6th 2017)