Grace Balsdon, the Team England defender who helped her country to clinch bronze at the Gold Coast in April, believes there’s a lot more to come from the team in the Women’s Hockey World Cup in London.
Last weekend, England played India in their first pool game (21st), and hoped for a repeat of the bronze medal match at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games earlier this year, where England emerged triumphant.
The team drew 1-1 against India with Lily Owsley scoring the equaliser in the 53rd minute and will compete in their next pool game against the USA tomorrow (25th).
“We train to win every game,” Balsdon explained. “We’re going to take it step by step, we’ve got the pool stages first so we're focusing on that."
Despite suffering a heart-breaking shootout loss on the Gold Coast to New Zealand in the semi-finals, Team England looked comfortable against India in Australia, winning 6-0.
“We’re always competitive with India, we never know what to expect. They’re the kind of team you have to be really sharp and switched on for, as long as we’re in the right place and we’re alert – I don’t think we’ll have any problems.”
Despite not starting the tournament as strongly as had hoped for, Balsdon admitted there were plenty of positives to be taken from her Commonwealth experience as England’s women rose from strength to strength as they proceeded throughout the knockout matches.
“In the pool stages we weren’t on our game, and then we finished really strong – what we can take from that into the World Cup is to stay focused, stay switched on on the day and we’ll do well.”
Similar to the Commonwealth squad, England have selected a blend of youthful and experienced players, confident they can mesh together and learn from each other. Balsdon, who plays her domestic hockey for Canterbury, made her Commonwealth debut in April along with several other players, conversely, captain Alex Danson made her 300th international appearance over the course of the Games.
“It’s always reassuring having those girls that have been there, know how it goes and let you know what to expect. It definitely makes a huge difference, having those girls with that knowledge and that experience behind them, it just makes you feel that although you’re feeling nervous, that’s normal.”
The 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup is the 14th edition of its kind, and is set to take place from the 21st July to the 5th August at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Club in London. England have been drawn in Pool B alongside India, USA and Ireland.