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Breaking your hand on your England Indoor debut is bad enough, but to repeat the feat nine months later as you make your senior international debut outdoors would seem to indicate unfortunate encounters with black cats, ladders and mirrors.

Ashleigh BallFortunately for Ashleigh Ball her subsequent international career has gone far smoother, culminating, for the present, in a hattrick of bronze medals as England’s Women enjoyed a fine 2010 campaign.

Debuts are disastrous for me,” says Ball unsurprisingly. “It was in Germany in 2008 and I have no idea how the game finished, I was too busy crying on the bench waiting to go to hospital. When my Great Britain debut came around I was dreading it, I wore the biggest cricket glove I could find!

eng chiWhile the result against China back in April may not have been so welcome, the debut passed injury free and Ball was able to gain revenge on the Chinese as England overcame their opponents during both the Champions Trophy and World Cup.
 
I put the successes down to the commitment of the group to the programme that was put in place this year,” says the 24-year-old. “It was tough for a lot of the players to re-arrange their lives and re-locate to Bisham [Abbey NSC], but we all put everything we could into training this year. The reward of three bronze medals is great, but there were disappointments along the way, which will drive us on in the training we have ahead of us this year.

“We went into every tournament believing we could go for gold, but stumbled at the semi each time,” continues the Slough player, who should have plenty of chances to put that right over the coming years. 

When asked about her personal highlight of such an eventful year, Ball initially comes up with an unexpected answer, before settling onto more familiar territory. 

Ashleigh Ball and Kerry Williams at the Marines 2010"This year has been full of highlights for me. The trip to Lympstone to spend a couple of days with the Royal Marines was a highlight, even though there were
some tough and tearful moments! 

Obviously getting onto the podium in the World Cup was a great moment. There was such a buzz around the tournament; the Argentinean crowd created a breathtaking atmosphere and it was a fantastic tournament to play in. The semi-final against Holland was a hard game to come back from.
We were so devastated, from being in the lead with ten minutes to go to losing on penalties. Kate [Walsh] had a big job to get us in the right frame of for the bronze play off. She is an exceptional leader and at the heart of the team. 

“The Commonwealth Games were a highlight for me too. I enjoyed every minute of being in India despite the disappointment of not getting to the final.” 

Ashleigh Ball and Chloe Rogers celebrate Ball's goal against NZ 081010 CWGDuring the group stage defeat to New Zealand Ball, who has a Masters in Nutrition from King’s College London, put her name onto the score sheet for her first, and so far only, international goal.

On a personal level it was good to score of course, but it was overshadowed
in the end. Winning is what we play to do, so the goal was insignificant.
 
With approaching 60 caps for England (indoors and outdoors) and Great Britain since first appearing in a senior international side against Scotland in Paisley, December 2007, Ball is also a key player for leading England Hockey League side Slough, so was keen to return to domestic hockey after international duties.

It was great to return and get involved in the success they’ve been enjoying. We have a new coach, Royce Waters and he is doing a great job. We have also got a new sponsor, Hub Entertainment, so it’s an exciting season.

“I look forward to playing club hockey, I learn a lot from playing alongside some of the masters of the game like Mandy Nicholson and Fiona Greenham.
With further success at European and Champions Trophy level in 2011, and a home Olympics drawing ever nearer, Ball looks well on the way to becoming a master herself.

Watch Ashleigh play for Slough at the second weekend of super sixes National Indoor Hockey Championships in Perdiswell on 15 / 16 January 2011.

super sixes - National Indoor Hockey Championships logo - smallsuper sixes National Indoor Hockey Finals

Watch the fastest show in town.

Hockey's indoor cousin comes to Wembley Arena for one day only. On Sunday 30 January six of England's top indoor hockey clubs will battle it out to be super sixes Champions. 

Tickets £15 adults, £5 U18s. Buy six tickets and get the cheapest FREE!*
Book via www.ticketmaster.co.uk or 0844 815 0815
*group bookings only available by 'phone


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