This is an interview I conducted for Loughborough Students’ Union magazine Label in 2010 with England and GB Women’s hockey stars Hannah Macleod and Kerry Williams, who were preparing for the Champions Trophy tournament which was being held in England for the first time at Nottingham’s Highfields Sports Club.

How did Loughborough set you up for a future within England Hockey?

HM: I think it was to do with the professionalism towards training, how we prepared for matches and the club setup.

KW: It’s the perfect environment. You have elite athletes everywhere and you all want to outdo each other, but equally everyone has a balanced lifestyle. It just breathes success.

What was your best sporting moment whilst at Loughborough?

HM: Probably when we won our Kent BUSA Championship – I was captain at the time.

KW: My first year [2005] when we won BUSA Gold, I scored and we won 2-1 against Birmingham. It was the year they had a really strong team as well.

As we come up to the 2012 Olympics and with Loughborough recently being named Great Britain’s base for the competition, how are you looking forward to coming back and training here? 

HM: I still head up to Loughborough every now and again. It still feels like home, especially after I spent quite a few years there. It’s absolutely fantastic that it’s now the training base. It has all the training facilities and just a great environment really.

KW: I love it! Every time I get time off to train back at home [Leicester], I come up to Loughborough. It’s like a home away from home.

What does it mean to have a competition like the Champions Trophy in England for the first time?

HM: A little bit odd I have to admit. Because we’re not used to playing in front of our home crowd and it’s going to be quite unusual for us. It’s certainly very exciting, everyone cheering you on instead of booing at you – a stark contrast to what we’re use to.

KW: For me, it’s fantastic, as home’s so close. It is the perfect opportunity for all my family and friends to come up and watch exactly what I do. We’ve seen all the plans for what’s going on and it looks phenomenal. It is a great opportunity for people to get an insight into our lives and appreciate hockey for the skilful, quick sport that it is.

What are the expectations on the team after fielding such a young side at last year’s competition?

HM: We’ve managed to gain quite a bit of experience in the last year. Since then we’ve had some really positive results, particularly against Germany recently and we’ve got Australia coming up, so we’re really testing ourselves against the top 5 in the world on a regular basis which we previously didn’t do.

KW: Yeah, it is young, but it’s probably one of the most drilled sides we’ve had in terms of the fact that we have spent such a long time together and you get to know each other. Expectations are high in the sense that we want to show the improvements made in the last twelve months.

How will the Champions Trophy help in your preparation for the Hockey World Cup and the Commonwealth Games later on this year?

HM: It’s a bit of a manic schedule. All of our training will have been done so it will be really nice to just play some games before the other tournaments. The real problem, though, is we only get something like two weeks off after the World Cup before we’re off to India for the Commonwealth Games.

KW: As it’s the top six in the world at the Champions Trophy they’re the sort of games you get in the semi-finals of a World Cup, and I think if we can do well here it is only going to set us up to hopefully play well in our first few games [at the World Cup] and if we get into the semi-finals we know what to expect.

What do you think of the recent agreement to create a full-time British side and how will this benefit the attempt for Olympic Gold come 2012?

HM: It had to come. We’ve all known that it was going to come eventually and it just came down to finally sorting out all the complicated issues surrounding it – credit to those involved for hammering out an agreement. It’s fantastic that it has been done, as before we would normally all come together about eight months before the Olympics and bringing all the players from different countries really wasn’t the way to prepare for the biggest tournament of everyone’s lives.