After making 138 appearances across a period of eight years, Ollie Willars has taken the decision to step away from international hockey.
The defender made his debut for England at the 2012 Champions Trophy and enjoyed plenty of success for the nation, playing 99 times and winning eight medals, including two bronzes at both the EuroHockey Championships and Commonwealth Games.
Ollie also played 39 times for Great Britain, making his debut in 2014. He was part of the squad that overcame Malaysia in 2019 to ensure the nation would be represented at the Tokyo Olympics while he also scored in the final against Australia as Great Britain won the 2017 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
After a period of reflection, Ollie has made the decision to leave the international game and has set up his own business – Give & Go – providing a personalised mentoring and coaching experience to help aspiring young hockey players.
Speaking about the decision, Ollie said: “There’s a tinge of sadness to leave. I’ve made a lot of good friends over the years and worked with some great coaches. So there’s that but actually I also feel a real excitement about what’s next and moving onto the next chapter. I do feel some sadness but there's also a lot of happiness and fond memories of everything I’ve experienced throughout my career.
“It got to a natural point where Danny and I had a conversation and I really respect him for that. With Covid and everything that’s going on, the team haven’t had as many games as they’d like and it’s best for them to focus on those that Danny wants to take with him to Tokyo and unfortunately I didn’t fall into that category. It’s sad but at the end of the day I want the team to do the best they can do and I can look back on the last eight years with a lot of happiness and a lot of proud moments.”
Using Ollie’s vast knowledge and experience that he’s developed throughout his years in the game, Give & Go aims to provide those wishing to take their game to the next level with a programme tailored to them, designed to help each individual realise their full potential.
With an ethos built on making sure players continue to enjoy their hockey, using kindness as a key tool and focusing on the person as a whole, Give & Go is an exciting venture that we wish Ollie all the best with.
This was echoed by Great Britain’s Performance Director Ed Barney, who believes Ollie's superb work ethic and exceptional character will be hugely beneficial to all those who he will take under his wing with the programme.
He said: “Ollie has been a phenomenal ambassador for British hockey. His commitment and perseverance through thick and thin has been an example to all. This is one of the many reasons he is so well respected by all of his teammates and staff alike.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Ollie and his willingness to take on the difficult conversation and speak openly has been of huge value to the programme. It’s always a pleasure to turn up to Bisham and be greeted by Ollie’s infectious smile.
“We could not wish Ollie more success, fulfilment and contentment as he embarks on the next phase of life. Ollie has been truly committed in his preparation and we wish him every success going forwards.”
Head coach Danny Kerry was similarly effusive, adding: “Ollie is a legend. He’s the squad member that everyone respects, trusts and wants to succeed. Why is that? Because he did everything in his power to be the best he could be, whilst also doing everything in his power to support his mates. As I say, a legend.
“We know Ollie will stay connected, and I wish him well in his future. I’m particularly excited for Ollie with his new mentoring company “Give&Go” he has started at which I’m sure he will also excel.”
Alongside Give & Go, Ollie will continue playing club hockey for Dutch outfit HGC alongside Alan Forsyth and Zach Wallace in the Hoodfklasse next season.
England Hockey would like to thank Ollie for his fantastic contribution across the last few years and we wish him all the very best for the future.