There were jubilant scenes in Valencia this week as the Great Britain Hockey team booked their ticket to Rio with a dominant display at the World League.
With a 100% win record and only two goals conceded, it is hard to believe that it was just one year ago that a largely unchanged side (albeit playing as England) exited the World Cup distraught at their under-performance, finishing bottom of their pool and recording just one victory.
Head Coach Danny Kerry has credited a change in the outlook of his players and staff for the dramatic upturn. “We had some very thorough conversations after the World Cup around why they wanted to be here, what they wanted to achieve and how they wanted to do it,” he said.
“It all sounds a bit clichéd, but it was the whole piece around values, visions and behaviours, and off the back of that they have driven a very high expectation of what their daily training environment looks like.”
Kerry encouraged the girls to think about what kind of legacy they wanted to create for the next generation of players, and how they wanted other people to perceive their sport.
“I think they felt that [at the World Cup] they didn’t present a united front, they didn’t feel they were inspiring people to want to play hockey and they wanted to recapture that.
“We know that our level of performance inspires people, but it’s want we do each day that helps us to achieve that, so it’s that virtuous circle.”
On the back of the World League semi-finals, England and Scotland will be competing at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships, part of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded #EveryRoadtoRio campaign, and Kerry is confident the team will continue to thrive with the home crowd support back in London.
“We’ve always performed well at home, in the run up to London 2012 we had a lot of competition at home and we’ve always revelled in that, I know the girls are very much looking forward to it. Our legacy venue at Lee Valley is fantastic!”
With Rio 2016 just over a year away, Kerry and his squad have a busy schedule of competition ahead of them and he is eager to not focus too much on the Olympic Games.
“We’ve qualified for the World League final in Argentina, we have the EuroHockey in August, in February we have a test series in Australia, then we host the Champions Trophy in June.
“We’ve learnt our lesson about focusing on what’s the next game, how are we going to play, rather than a stamping a big goal for how we are going to do in Rio. Our target is more about behaving and performing in a way that inspires people and creating a legacy for the next cycle.
“We’re definitely focused on coming home with something shiny, but it’s more important to focus on how we train and what we do each day and that will inspire and help us get the outcome in Rio.”
The Unibet EuroHockey Championships are part of UK Sport’s National Lottery backed #EveryRoadtoRio campaign, featuring over 30 world class sporting events across the UK to help our athletes qualify and prepare for Rio 2016. Buy your tickets now >