As the men’s and women’s squads return to training for the start of the Paris 2024 cycle, Great Britain Hockey is delighted to announce that eight new players have been selected for the women’s programme.
They include several athletes who have already featured for Great Britain, including Holly Hunt – who has made two appearances – and Sophie Hamilton, who played four matches during the 2020/21 FIH Hockey Pro League.
Both players have also represented England at junior level, as has Alex Malzer who has been selected having featured twice for GB during 2019. Scottish international Jen Eadie – boasting 70 international appearances to her name already – has also been added to the programme alongside goalkeeper Miriam Pritchard, who has played twice for England.
They will be joined by Sophie’s twin sister Olivia Hamilton, Darcy Bourne and Lily Walker, all of whom have been part of the England U21 and Great Britain Elite Development Programme (EDP) set-ups over recent years.
The players have been selected after impressing during the Talent Confirmation period – involving camps at Bisham, World Cup qualification tournaments and junior international activity – that has been taking place over the last few months and officially joined the programme as full-time athletes on Monday 10 January.
The Talent Confirmation process is still ongoing, with athletes being given further opportunities to stake their claim for a place in the men’s or women’s programmes across the next few weeks before the final squads are determined.
Women’s head coach David Ralph said: “We are delighted and excited to welcome the new players to the GB squad this week. Each of the players has had their own journey, overcoming different challenges to reach this point, and it has been really pleasing and exciting to watch their development and performances over the last six months in particular.
“Jen, Holly and Miriam’s performances in the GB EDP programme and the recent Talent Confirmation camps were really impressive, and I know that all three of them have been working towards this opportunity for a number of years now, so I am delighted that they now have an opportunity to join the squad.
“Darcy, Lily, Alex, Sophie and Liv all really excelled through the recent England U21 programme and I hope that this opportunity makes up for their disappointment in the postponement for the recent Junior World Cup in December.
“It was great to welcome them to the squad on Monday and see them in action with everyone on the pitch. The freshness and excitement that new players bring to the squad is very important and I have no doubt that they will help improve the standard and quality of our training environment. A massive congratulations to all of them and, while we hope that this is just the start of another exciting chapter in their careers, I think all of them deserve recognition for achieving selection to the squad.”
Ed Barney, Great Britain Hockey’s Performance Director, added: “Having had the squads together for the first time since Tokyo, there has been a palpable sense of excitement – definitely a first day back at school feel!
“Whilst there will be the inevitable bumps and challenges along the road, we feel incredibly well placed with an enviable group of exceptionally talented players in the men’s and women’s senior international squads. The quality that these young women will bring will only further the women’s group and what they can achieve over the summer – both on and off the pitch – that is clear to see already.
“With the men’s talent confirmation group having been narrowed, the opportunities over the coming weeks will ensure that we make the most informed decision possible. I know Zak Jones and the staff team are excited to make some final decisions on the men’s side.”
Images – Darcy Bourne, Jen Eadie, Olivia Hamilton, Sophie Hamilton – Upper
Holly Hunt, Alex Malzer, Miriam Pritchard, Lily Walker – Lower