Former Belper Hockey Club player Hollie Webb believes England’s ladies hockey team has the talent to go a long way in the Commonwealth Games, which start today (Wednesday) in Glasgow.
The 23-year-old defender, who grew up in Blackbrook, went to school in Turnditch and then attended The Ecclesbourne School in Duffield, will be representing her country at the Games, and will be hoping to add to her 36 England caps to date.
The England ladies team has had a mixed time of it lately, finishing only 11th in the World Cup recently, but then storming back to fine form by winning last week’s Investec London Cup.
Hollie’s preparations for Glasgow 2014 were temporarily put on hold late last week by a freak occurrence in training when she was accidentally hit in the throat by a hockey stick, but the medical team have since given her the all-clear and she was able to return to training at the weekend.
She said: “It was a strange few days for me, but I got the all-clear and have trained well since then. It was just one of those freak accidents, it’s certainly never happened to me before.”
Reflecting on her formative years in the Belper area, Hollie, who now plays her club hockey for Surbiton, said: “I was into all sports as a child but gradually hockey became the one that got the majority of my attention. I joined Belper Hockey Club at the age of eight and moved on when I was 16.
“I had a great time there, and have many happy memories of going through the age groups.
“When I got to 16, I’d played for the first team and it was felt that it was best for my development as a player that I moved on, but I look back on my time there very fondly. I still see it as my hockey home, you could say, and I keep in touch with a lot of the players there.”
As for the challenge ahead of Hollie and her England teammates over the next couple of weeks, she explained: “It didn’t go as well as we’d hoped in the World Cup but we knew we hadn’t become a bad team overnight and the Investec London Cup came along at just the right time for us. We were able to prove to ourselves that we were still good players.
“I don’t think confidence had been particularly dented but it never hurts to win a competition like that.”
The first game for England Ladies will take place tomorrow (Thursday) against Wales.
Hollie concluded: “Wales will be a tough start. A lot of the girls play with each other from the two sides so we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It could get a bit meaty, because England v Wales can sometimes be that sort of game!
“We think that if we reach our full potential and play as well as know we can play, we can certainly challenge right up there, and who knows how far we can go. We think we’ve got the players to do it.
“I’m looking forward to the whole experience. There are a few of the team who have been at the Commonwealth Games before and have been telling us about their experiences, but this will be a bit different because it’s in the UK and I think the level of interest from the public will be even higher than before.”