WOMEN IN SPORT AND MENTAL HEALTH

We had a chat with Shona McCallin MBE, GB Hockey Player, and Olympic Champion.

 

CAREERS IN SPORT

‘Have I always known what I wanted to do as a career? Nope! And not sure I even do now. Growing up there wasn’t the opportunity to be a professional hockey player in the UK.

 

It was only in 2009 when this changed and the UK Sport funding came in and supported hockey. Alongside hockey I have a strong interest in nutrition, health, fitness and training meaning post hockey career I hope to work in a similar industry. I have a business degree so hope to use this too.

 

Why hockey? The teamwork, learning new skills, fitness, meeting new people and the social aspect is all a draw.’

 

British hockey star, Shona McCallin, began playing hockey at the age of six and have since found herself on a rapid ascent though the ranks of elite international players. In 2007, she made her international debut for England U16s in what would be the first of 85 junior International caps.

 

Shona was introduced to hockey at a young age by her Mum, as a means to expel some energy. She joined the junior section at Newark Hockey Club, where her sister played too. By the aged of 14, Shona made the decision to focus on hockey rather than football as her evolution as a player began to advance.

 

‘The biggest challenge in my career came after being injured for 17 months where I nearly gave up. However, a major highlight in my career so far as been winning Gold at Rio and securing qualification to Tokyo 2020.’

 

From the English U16's, U18's and, ultimately, as the captain of the England and GB U21’s, Shona developed a reputation for being a driving force in the midfield. Scoring 13 goals and multiple medals along the way, Shona's success included leading England to its highest-ever finish at the Junior World Cup in 2013.

 

Simultaneously, she attended Tilburg University and trained in Holland at MOP HC under the leadership of coach Toon Siepman. It was during this time that Shona honed her game among the world's best, evolving into the player that she is today.

 

‘My advice for women wanting to break into hockey is to jus believe in yourself because if you’re not going to nobody else will. Push your limits; you can go further mentally and physically than you think. Make training fun, get a buddy and train with other people.

 

ROLE MODELS IN SPORT

Unlike a lot of sports, there isn’t a lack of women role models and mentors in hockey, and every day in the job is different. A typical day includes pushing myself, laughing with teammates, bonding with teammates and travelling. There is so much opportunity and progression.

 

The only time I have felt like I have had to prove myself more than my male counterparts was when I used to play football with the boys up to the age of 12 or 13. I was always the only girl and pre matches the boys used to laugh at me and our team for having a girl playing. Post matches there were no laughs!

 

As a woman in sport the changes I think need to be made to encourage young girls into sports as a profession include better media coverage, to attract more people to watch it, for it to be free to air on TV and to encourage sports at school.’

 

MENTAL HEALTH IN SPORT

 

‘Its definitely improving and becoming more normalised. There is still a stigma however with time I’m sure this will reduce. It’s about having small conversations little and often with people and REALLY checking in whether they are okay over a coffee or a walk.

 

Dealing with bad days on the pitch can be dealt with in a number of ways. I write things down afterwards, debrief training and try and focus on solutions to make it better next time. Once all this is done I make sure I'm eating well, sleeping well and switch on and watch something on TV – usually football, Netflix or a good documentary.

©Shona McCallin 2019

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