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Defroand ‘delighted’ to earn England call-up for European Championships

PUBLISHED: 09:00 11 August 2017

Emily Defroand (front, centre) flies the flag for England women at the World Hockey League semi-final in South Africa (pic Rodrigo Jaramillo/England Hockey)

Emily Defroand (front, centre) flies the flag for England women at the World Hockey League semi-final in South Africa (pic Rodrigo Jaramillo/England Hockey)

APURAFOTO - WSP

Havering’s Emily Defroand was thrilled to be named in the England women’s 18-strong squad for the EuroHockey Championships in Holland later this month.

Emily Defroand (left) celebrates with England team-mates at the World Hockey League in South Africa (pic England Hockey)Emily Defroand (left) celebrates with England team-mates at the World Hockey League in South Africa (pic England Hockey)

Former Coopers pupil Defroand celebrated her 23rd birthday on July 27 and, having so far won 14 caps for her country, will be aiming to help England defend their title in Amsterdam.

“I’m delighted to be selected for the European Championships,” she said.

“It doesn’t come bigger than playing a major tournament in a country like Holland, where hockey is such a national phenomenon.

“It is expected that the stadium will be packed for every game and I can’t wait to get started and build on the progress we made at the World League Semi Finals in Johannesburg last month.”

England won the bronze medal in South Africa, after an impressive 5-2 win over Argentina in the third-place play-off.

They began their campaign with a 3-0 win over Poland, but then lost 1-0 to Japan, before also seeing off Germany (1-0) and Ireland (3-2) in the group phase.

After beating India (4-1) in the quarter-finals, they were held to a 1-1 draw by the United States in the last four, before losing 2-1 in a shoot-out.

But the team then put that disappointment behind them to ensure they did not come home empty-handed and Defroand added: “As my first senior international tournament, the World League Semi Finals was a very special experience. I loved every minute of the trip.

“We were in Johannesburg for three and a half weeks including our holding camp and achieved our primary objective of securing a top-four finish and consequently qualifying for the World League Finals at the end of the year.

“We faced countries with varying playing styles and played seven games in 14 days, but at this stage so early in the cycle, it is all about making progress and believing in our culture both on and off the pitch – which I think we certainly did.”

The party included several members of Great Britain’s Olympic gold-medal winning squad, as well as Defroand and other younger players promoted from the national programme.

And the University of Birmingham graduate feels they are building good chemistry in their first year together, adding: “The squad is progressing very well. We have had a very busy few months both at our training base at Bisham Abbey and in tournaments and matches elsewhere but I think the power of this squad is our collective identity and strong team ethos.

“It is early days but we have made huge strides in our team culture and I know that this will only grow throughout the Olympic cycle. It is an honour to play alongside such a dedicated, inspiring group of players, day in, day out.”

Defroand, who now plays her club hockey for Surbiton, having represented Havering and Old Loughtonians in the early stages of her career, has been asked to play various roles so far by the coaching staff, but is pleased with her development to date.

And she is under no illusions about what else she needs to do, adding: “My main aim has always been to try to learn and improve every time I go out in training environment or in competition.

“I’ve been pleased that I have shown over the past few months that I can play across multiple lines in the team and I want to continue to consistently impact play from whatever position I play in. However, I appreciate I’m still very early into my international career and I know I still have a lot I need to work on.

“I am a bit of a perfectionist, so I thrive in building on the progress I’ve made so far and I’m excited about continuing to learning and development aiming to fulfil my potential.”

As for what England might be able to achieve in Holland, where they face rivals Germany, Ireland and Scotland in the group stage, Defroand knows they have targets on their backs.

“The Europeans will be the biggest tournament (and challenge) that this group has been involved in so I’m sure it will be a good learning curve for us as individuals and as a collective unit,” she added.

“We go into the tournament as reigning champions after success at the home Championships at Lee Valley in 2015 so we will definitely want to retain our title.

“That being said, we always take each tournament game by game and will have to face some tough opposition in our group before thinking about the title!”

Every game will be shown live on BT Sport.

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