Commonwealth Games 2018: Emily Defroand wants to help England women deliver hockey medal, but taking things one game at a time
PUBLISHED: 11:30 04 April 2018
PA Archive/PA Images
Havering's Emily Defroand says England's women want a medal at the Commonwealth Games, but knows they have to focus on each step of their journey.
Former Coopers pupil Defroand was called into the 16-strong squad at late notice, following injuries to three other players.
And the 23-year-old feels the group has what it takes to do well, saying: “It’s really exciting, we’ve got a few new faces, but we’ve got the well-established players that won silver last time in Glasgow.
“There’s a handful who have that experience of a multi-sport event already. We’ve got players coming through, up-and-coming players who have embedded themselves into the squad over the last year or so, and we’ve got a good buzz about the squad.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind few weeks. We’ve had to overcome a few injuries within the squad. Times like these challenge you as a unit and now we’re very focused on doing what we do best and letting the process take care of itself.”
Defroand has mixed emotions about going to the Gold Coast, having travelled to Australia five years ago and been forced to watch from the sidelines.
“My only visit to Australia previously was the Youth Olympics, a multi-sport event and one of the biggest things at that time I could play in,” she said.
“I was absolutely honoured to represent GB Youth, but it was overshadowed by an injury I picked up in the final practice game. I broke my thumb and ruled myself out of the tournament, so I’ve got mixed emotions, but I’m hoping the next few weeks will only be positive.
“It will be a warmer climate compared to what we’ve had over the past few weeks! Preparation has been slightly dented due to the weather, but it’s going to be very exciting.
“For some it’s going to be our first multi-sport event so you’re going to have the excitement of that, the exposure, the increase in attention with it being a Commonwealth Games. But we will be very focused. We’re there to do a job, represent England Hockey and Team England and do as well as we can.”
England’s first game is against South Africa, with Wales, India and Malaysia to follow in their group, and Defroand says they cannot afford to get ahead of themselves.
“You could say it’s toughest match first, but we’re very much a team that takes one game at a time,” she added.
“South Africa is in the forefront of our minds. We’ve played them a few times over the last year or so, they’re quite physically tough, play quite similar to us. It will be a really, really good test.
“Wales up second is going to be a bit of a battle as you’d expect with two Home Nations going head-to-head. But we’re not getting ahead of ourselves too much. We’ve got a few practice games and then our full attention will be turned to South Africa and what we need to do there.
“It’s clear we want to medal. There is mutual knowledge as a team, a staff, that we’re going to the Commonwealth Games and we want to win.
“We will very much be focused on game by game, letting all of our hard work that we’ve been doing over the last few weeks, last few months, take control of the results and that is the outlook we’ve always had. Hopefully that will stand us in good stead.”
Having made her GB debut in Argentina recently, in front of passionate crowds and a warmer climate, Defroand is hoping the Commonwealth Games will act as a stepping stone to the World Cup in London later this summer.
“It was a really positive trip. For some it was the first time they’d played in Argentina. I’ve never experienced anything like it,” she added.
“The crowds were packed every game, without fail. The attention we got in and around the stadium and hotel was something I’ve never experienced before.
“To win your first GB cap in Argentina, such a hockey-mad country, was a special occasion and we played some of our best hockey to date. It was really good exposure to one of the world’s best teams.
“It’s all building up and we’re learning as we’re going along and it’s a real good environment and place to be. It was a great opportunity, especially when our pitches could be frozen and you’re not getting on as much as you’d like. Going abroad to play in warmer climates is quite good and using that exposure we had in Argentina will only benefit us.
“It’s going to be a good test for us again, with only a few months until the World Cup. Over the last few months we’ve worked really hard at Bisham Abbey, put in a lot of hours in the gym, on the pitch.
“We’ve had lots of meetings with psychologists, nutritionists working really hard with us to try and make those extra gains and differences on the pitch and with the World Cup coming up so soon it’s going to give us that extra boost at the Commonwealth Games. It’s a really exciting time to be part of it.”
Fixtures, April 5 (women): India v Wales (9.30am); Scotland v New Zealand (11.30am); England v South Africa (2.30pm); (men): Pakistan v Wales (7.30pm); S Africa v Scotland (9.30pm).
April 6 (men): England v Malaysia (9.30am); (women) England v Wales (7.30pm); Canada v Scotland (9.30pm).
April 7 (men): Malaysia v Wales (9.30am); Canada v Scotland (11.30am).
April 8 (women): England v India (9.30am); (men): England v Pakistan (2.30pm); India v Wales (7.30pm); Australia v Scotland (9.30pm).
April 9: S Africa v Wales (2.30pm); Scotland v Ghana (4.30pm); England v Malaysia (7.30pm).
April 10 (men): N Zealand v Scotland (11.30am); England v Wales (2.30pm); (women): Australia v Scotland (9.30pm).
April 11 (women): Malaysia v Wales (9.30am); (men): India v England (7.30pm).
Classification and semi-finals on April 12-13; medal matches on April 14 (women 10.30am, 12.45pm, men 7pm, 9.15pm).