FIH Pro League: Defroand delighted to back on home soil
PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 April 2019
Havering's Emily Defroand is relishing a busy summer of hockey with Great Britain's women in the FIH Pro League.
The former Coopers Coborn pupil, having helped Surbiton to their sixth successive title at the League Finals weekend earlier this month, returns to Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre for international duty this weekend.
GB face the USA in the first of eight home matches in nine weeks in the new competition, with Defroand having claimed her first international goal in a 3-1 win over the Americans in Philadelphia only last month.
And the 24-year-old cannot wait, saying: “We've got three games coming up against Germany, the USA and China and we're already highlighted them as must-win games.
“We've had good training weeks with Mark and we're in a good place. There will be an extra edge to our game for those matches.
“The USA, as our first home game, we're really excited for and hope to use home advantage going forward.”
Having helped England win bronze at the Commonwealth Games last April, Defroand missed out on the World Cup on home soil.
But she forced her way back into the GB reckoning for the start of the Pro League early in the new year, for the long-haul trip to New Zealand, Australia and China and is really enjoying the new competition.
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“Travelling further away a week before games and training as normal for just one game heightens the importance of making the most of your prep time. Home or away you have to knuckle down,” she added.
“The games are coming thick and fast, being played frequently now and you can watch them on BT and check on the opposition and see their results.
“You can't call it. Teams are taking points off each other which is what the FIH wanted when they were putting it all together. It's good for the spectators.”
With the leading nations now meeting more regularly inbetween the big tournaments, hockey can be kept in the public consciousness more frequently, rather than only be noticed by casual observers during an Olympic Games for instance.
And Defroand loves the challenge of being in a position to test herself against GB's main rivals, adding: “They've announced a slight change in format for the next two years, but it's only a good thing for hockey being commercially out there.
“It's so far, so good. It's quick and fast, you can't rest on your laurels. It's very exciting.
“The top four go to the grand final in Holland at the end of the Pro League schedule. In July there is a Tokyo trip and then the Euros in Belgium, which is a big important tournament.
“It's all go-go-go, but we wouldn't have it any other way.”