Walsh to win 100th GB cap

Kate Walsh

This week, Great Britain captain Kate Walsh will reach yet another milestone in her incredible international career.  Subject to selection, the 31 year old defender from Manchester will pull on her Great Britain vest for the 100th time against Korea today on the opening day of the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament at the Riverbank Arena. It will be an ‘honour’ as she puts it, propelling her into a very special club as she becomes just the ninth woman to play 100 times for GB.

Nine years after first captaining her country, we caught up with Kate on the eve of the tournament to find out how she feels and relive some of her highlights from her 99 previous other appearances for Great Britain.

What do you remember of your GB debut?
To be honest, at the time it felt like any other international match. I’d made my senior international debut for England in May 1999 against Russia and I think my GB debut was in Milton Keynes against the USA.  I just remember approaching it as I would any other game at the time.

Can you pick out any particular highlights from your GB career to date?
Some of my best memories are actually the most recent.  Winning silver with this squad at the Champions Trophy in Rosario in February was the biggest high ever.  It was an incredible achievement and showed how far we’ve come since I first played for GB.  I won my 250th international cap at the Champions Trophy (England and GB combined appearances).  That was very special to me.  To win it in those surroundings and that set of circumstances, knowing we’d made the semi final of the Champions Trophy was wonderful.

It’s always been a tremendous honour to represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games.  I remember the Sydney Olympics in 2000.  It was my first Olympic Games and I was 20. I just remember how well the Aussies did everything; how well organised it was and the atmosphere.  The Hockeyroo fans really got behind their team that year and I’m really hoping the British fans get behind us in the same way in London.

Who is the best GB teammate you’ve ever played with?
Ooh, that’s a tough question.  I’ve played with some excellent players.  I think, to avoid missing anyone out altogether I’d probably mention a player I always looked up to and wanted to be like.  As a defender it’s got to be Kath Johnson.  I played with her when she was in the team for the Sydney Olympics and she was a real, honest, British defender.  Off the pitch she was so nice, so lovely and quiet but once she stepped over that white line and onto the pitch she wanted to win so badly.  And I wanted to be just like her.  [Johnson won 100 caps for Great Britain and Walsh will equal her tally against Korea on Wednesday].

And what about the hardest opponent you’ve come up against?
That would be Alyson Annan of Australia.  She won the FIH International Player of the Year Award in 2000 and was just so much ahead of her time.  She was direct and strong in a way many of the best players are today but at the time she was leading the way. 

As a team, the Australia team of the late 90s and early 00s was probably the toughest opponent over a period of time.  They had the best programme in the world and were ahead of absolutely everyone when it came to training, tactics, style and everything that makes a great time.  They broke new ground for the women’s game.  I can now see a bit of them in Great Britain today.  Our programme is probably the best in the world and I feel good that it’s us now leading the way on that front.

What would you trade for an Olympic medal in London this summer?
If I could trade it all I would.  If I only won one cap and it was to win a medal this summer it might sound clichéd but it would be a dream come true.

In winning her 100th cap for Great Britain, Walsh will become the ninth GB centurion. Two games this week and she will become the sixth most capped woman of all time for Great Britain.

Look out too for two other players making milestone appearances this week.  Reading's Alex Danson will win her 50th GB cap in the first match she plays while Leicester's Chloe Rogers is in line for her 150th international appearance.  To date she has played for Great Britain 50 times and for England 99 times.  Congratulations to them.

Great Britain’s role of honour
Jane Sixsmith – 158 GB appearances
Karen Brown – 140 GB appearances
Jill Atkins – 129 GB appearances
Mandy Nicholson – 111 GB appearances
Alison Ramsay – 107 GB appearances
Mary Nevill – 101 GB appearances
Wendy Fraser – 100 GB appearances
Kath Johnson – 100 GB appearances
Kate Walsh – 99 GB appearances

Follow Kate and the team’s progress all week on the Great Britain Hockey website. 

Follow Kate on Twitter - @katewalsh11 and see Kate’s GB Hockey player profile here.