In my second year playing for England Masters O50s Ladies hockey, I was delighted to be selected to represent my country in the 2014 Masters Hockey World Cup in Rotterdam, Holland.
Having spent the best part of a year training 5-6 times a week, with the help of a personal trainer, and several squad training weekends in Cannock, I felt prepared for the personal challenge that lay ahead.
After a 10 hour drive, I arrived at the squad hotel, straight into our first tournament team meeting with our coach and manager. We were facing a game every day for the next 6 days so needed to get ourselves focused.
Our first game against New Zealand promised to be a physical battle, as they were considered the favourites along with Australia. Our pre-match preparation got us all in the right frame of mind and we started the game on the attack. Within 3 minutes I had scored: my first goal for my country! Our positivity continued, we carried on in the same vein, coming out 3-1 winners.
Day 2 saw us take on Australia, again winning 2-1, followed by victories over Ireland (1-0), Wales (5-0), USA (10-0), and The Netherlands (1-0)
This meant we finished top of our group, with the only unbeaten record conceding just 3 goals, to face Australia in the final.
Finals day began with a feeling of nervous excitement; playing in a World Cup Final was beyond my wildest dreams and I was determined to enjoy it and be proud of my achievement.
Australia had clearly done their homework and knew they had to come out fighting if they were to get a result against us. It was a real end to end game but, after 30 minutes, the deadlock was broken when I got on the end of a loose ball which wrong-footed the keeper and saw the ball end up in the back of the net.
The second half remained as competitive but I connected with a well worked cross to put us 2-0 up.
With three minutes to go, Australia got a goal back but we regrouped and held on until the final whistle: a 2-1 win, making us World Champions!
I feel honoured that I have achieved something that 99.9% of other sportspeople won’t ever achieve. Scoring two goals in a World Cup final, coupled with the pride of standing on the podium, singing the national anthem, and watching my country’s flag being raised, is an experience I shall never forget and I hope it will inspire others to aim high and never give up.