Danson excited by up and coming players

Alex Danson celebrates another goal

England’s opening game of the Champions Trophy is almost upon us, and with familiar rivals in Australia, Germany and Argentina looming large on the horizon it is a familiar face who weighs up England’s chances in the tournament.

Alex Danson is one of four survivors of the 2012 Champions Trophy
campaign which resulted in a silver medal for Great Britain. It is a tournament she remembers vividly:

“It was a great tournament with some great memories. The level of competition was very high and Argentina is a great place to play, they put on a good show on and off the field. It’s amazing and very special. It was different to London because we were welcomed as the home team at the Olympics, whereas everyone in the stadium was cheering against us in Rosario. We’ve done plenty of work on shutting that out in preparation. It’s about proving we’ve done the work in training to ensure we put in a good display for our country.”

The Reading striker, set to line up in her fifth Champions Trophy has seen it all before in a superb career that has had her competing in every major tournament there is. Despite her experience, she is keen to stress that even now, she is developing all the time:

“We’re always learning and evolving. Although we’ve worked with Danny Kerry previously there are always new things that come up each day. We’ve all thoroughly enjoyed that and the intensity has been great in the group. Replicating the efforts on the training field in the tournament should stand us in good stead.”

Hard work is a recurring theme amongst the squad and the coach, but Danson knows that although important, hard work needs talent to go alongside it, something she feels this group is not lacking. With several new faces in the squad, you would be forgiven for assuming these players will look to the experienced No15 for guidance. However Danson plays down her role, explaining that each player has their part to play:

“We have some phenomenally talented young players and I wish I was a few years younger. I can see the depth of the talent in the group which means they will achieve great results in the future. I see my role as no different to normal, which is a mark of how good these players are: We live by our values as a team and every individual leads by example. I’m just one of the team who tries to do that.”

Danson shows her skills against Germany at the World Cup

Inevitably, the subject turns to a roller coaster summer in which England endured a difficult World Cup campaign, followed by the agony of missing out on a Commonwealth gold medal in dramatic fashion. The 29-year-old is characteristically philosophical about the experience, saying:

“The summer was emotional but sport is like that. You get the lows and the highs. It’s part and parcel of what we do. We’ve learned some lessons from it. We’ve been looking at the final periods of games and we’ve worked hard on the physical aspects, too. We’re very tight as a unit and you can see that around the squad on and off the pitch.”

There is a determination about Danson’s words but she is not getting carried away. Every team in the competition is capable of world class hockey on their day  and aware of the strengths of some of the big hitters in the competition, her approach is simply to take the competition one game at a time:

“It’s going to be interesting. Argentina at home always turn it on. Australia are in great form, the Netherlands are fantastic, anyone could get top spot. I’m not going to predict how we’ll do but what I will say is the work is done at training and we can hand on heart say we have given our all to get ready for this competition. We know what we need to do, we have a performance focus and game by game we need to do our jobs. We’ll then see where that leaves us.”

The Champions Trophy promises to be a tournament packed with spectacular action and plenty of goals. You can follow all the action live on Sky Sports, starting this Saturday at 19:30. For the TV schedule, click here.

If you'd like to see Danny Kerry's side in action in the flesh, why not come on down to the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre next summer where they will be comepting in EuroHockey 2015? All the details and how to buy tickets are on our website.