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Defroand ‘honoured’ to get GB hockey call

PUBLISHED: 13:00 20 January 2017

Emily Defroand celebrates her call-up to the GB women's hockey squad with year seven pupils at her former school, Coopers Coborn in Upminster (pic Helen Davies)

Emily Defroand celebrates her call-up to the GB women's hockey squad with year seven pupils at her former school, Coopers Coborn in Upminster (pic Helen Davies)

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Former Coopers pupil named in women’s squad for Olympic cycle

Former Coopers pupil Emily Defroand, in action for GB under-23s against Australia, has been included in the senior squad for the next Olympic cycle (pic Andy Smith)Former Coopers pupil Emily Defroand, in action for GB under-23s against Australia, has been included in the senior squad for the next Olympic cycle (pic Andy Smith)

Emily Defroand said it was ‘an honour’ to be included in the Great Britain women’s hockey squad for the next Olympic cycle and would love to help them defend their Olympic title in Tokyo.

Former Coopers Coborn pupil Defroand was named in a 33-strong group this week, after a rigorous assessment period late last year, and is now hoping to write her own headlines as a full-time member of the programme.

“It is an absolute honour to be included in the squad. I very much look forward to what the next few years hold,” said Defroand.

“I remember the Olympic final like it was yesterday, it was a match of so many emotions!

“I shouted at the TV for every pass or tackle and felt so incredibly proud when the girls won on penalty shuffles.

“I was so aware of the blood, sweat and tears they had all given in reaching the pinnacle of our sport and I felt completely inspired and incredibly proud of what they had achieved.

“Following the Rio success, it is now our responsibility to continue their legacy and promote hockey and female sport in general.”

Defroand started her hockey career at Havering and went on to play for Old Loughtonians and the University of Birmingham before joining Surbiton this season.

And she was also a key member of the Coopers hockey programme for several years, before making her international debut in age-group squads, adding: “I have so many fond memories from my hockey career so far, from starting as a mini at Havering aged seven to captaining my country in all national age-group squads.

“I have been lucky enough to play at some fantastic clubs and have received expert coaching and played alongside so many talented team-mates.

“And Coopers remain extremely supportive to this day and I have a lot to thank them for.

“I’ve played in the Youth Olympic Games in Australia; finished fourth in a Junior World Cup and made my senior international indoor debut in the European Indoor Championships last year.

“However, like many athletes, my journey has definitely not been straightforward and I have had to overcome numerous injuries along the way. I now look at these setbacks as motivation to spur me on to bigger and better things in the future.”

GB’s women reached the pinnacle of the sport with their dramatic penalty shoot-out success against the Netherlands last summer and have become household names since.

Defroand knows it will be hard work to emulate their achievements in 2020, but is determined to do everything she can to be on the plane – with her family no doubt close behind.

“The next four years will definitely be challenging and incredibly demanding, mentally and physically. I’m so excited by this opportunity and aim to work hard to develop as a player and to reach my goals,” she added.

“In the coming years our opponents may write us off in major tournaments – including a home World Cup at the Queen Elizabeth Park in 2018 – but we’ve set ourselves the challenge of ‘Winning After Winning’ and I look forward to being a part of that squad effort.

“I have so many people to thank along the way. I have the most supportive family who have travelled all over the world to watch me play and have provided the constant support when I have needed it most.

“It is every athlete’s dream to go to an Olympic Games and I am no different. I know I have a long way to go, but ultimately having the opportunity to train as a full-time athlete every day with some of the best hockey players in the world will be an honour.

“If an Olympic gold medal comes in four years time as a result of this, that will be a bonus!”

Helen Davies, head of PE at Coopers, paid her own tribute to Defroand, adding: “Words cannot do justice for quite how proud we at Coopers’ Coborn are of Emily.

“We certainly aren’t surprised given her unique talent and total and utter commitment alongside a shed-load of ‘Coopers Guts’ as we refer to it, that Emily has had since the day she first walked through the school gates in 2005.

“She captained her school team to a historic seven National Hockey finals, consistently as the only state school to reach such levels, and is a born leader, a lovely girl and a true Cooperian and we simply can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.

“Fiercely loyal to her school and a former Games Captain, Emily has already been in to see us since the news and our current students are in awe of her achievements. We hope she will inspire the next generation of Coopers’ hockey players.”


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