Last month, Alex Danson was named England women’s captain for this summer’s major international hockey events. She captained the team at the Hockey World League in South Africa, and will be captaining the EuroHockey Championships in Holland this weekend where England will be defending champions.
Ahead of the Eurohockey championships on Saturday, we spoke to England Captain Alex Danson about how she got into the sport, what her tops tips for success are and what she thinks about the coverage of the women’s game….
Q: Who was your sporting role model growing up?
A: When I was growing up my sporting role model was Dame Katherine Grainger. She went to five Olympic Games winning consecutive medals, and I think for somebody to show that much resilience, hard work and have that passion for their sport, was something I found very, very special as a young person.
Q: How did you get into your sport?
A: I got into my sport through my Mum initially, when we played in the back garden. I then picked up a hockey stick at school and when I was 12 years old I joined a very local hockey club, and I just loved the game. It’s fast, it’s quick, it’s exciting and I love the part about scoring goals and trying to stop goals going in, so it’s a great game for lots of people to play.
Q: What would be your advice for something trying to excel in their sport?
A: First of all, you have to enjoy what you do – if you enjoy it more than the next person you’re more likely to work hard. I think that is the secret recipe, it’s getting out on the pitch and training a little bit more, it’s putting that effort in, it’s finding times when you can better yourself in your sport. So enjoy, work hard and find a great group of people to do it with.
Q: Three things you could take on a desert island?
A never-ending book, probably my iPad because I love listening to music, and can I take a friend? [Laughs] And I’ll take a friend as well!
Q: What’s your favourite post-workout snack?
A: My favourite post-workout snack would without question be Meridian Peanut Butter and jam on oatcakes, because it’s really high in energy and it’s got a great level of protein which is so important for us with training. And it’s just really tasty!
Q: How often do you train?
A: We train here at Bisham Abbey two times a day normally, and five times a week. We then play at our clubs on a Saturday and I pretty much don’t get out of my pyjamas on a Sunday. It’s a lot of training but it’s a lot of fun, and you’re doing it with your teammates and friends at the same time.
Q: How do you feel about the popularity and future of women’s sport?
A: I think the coverage of women’s sport is certainly on the up, but if we look at hard facts, in print media particularly, we’re only covering about 7% so we’ve got a long way to go. I think the more and the greater the visibility on the television and in our print media, it will only inspire a wealth and a new generation of young people, particularly girls, to play and I think that is vital moving forwards.
It’s something I feel very passionately about, it’s something I hope I can infect with change, and I know particularly our whole Great Britain women’s team feel that way indeed.