England head into the World League Finals in Argentina on the back of a promising summer, which saw them pick up silver medals at both the Investec World League Semi Finals and the EuroHockey Championships.
“Even with a young squad we’ve had really positive results all year beating Argentina in the Investec World League Semi Final and Holland at the Euros,” said Helen in an exclusive interview. “To put that into perspective I’m in my 15th international year and I’d never beaten Holland in a tournament before.”
Following eight retirements after the Olympics, we have loads of new faces in the squad as well as a new coach and it’s brought a really fresh feeling to the camp,” the midfield playmaker continued. “Going into the London Olympics we had a really tight structure where everybody knew their roles inside out and those foundations have allowed us to kick on and play with more freedom and fluidity, particularly amongst our front six.”
Temperatures will push beyond 40 degrees in San Miguel de Tucumán and with a fervent home crowd and the top eight teams in the world it will be a significant challenge for England to win gold but Helen is relishing the chance to get back out to Argentina.
“I’ve played all over the world and aside from the London Olympics, the atmosphere at hockey matches in Argentina is the best I’ve experienced. The fans are so passionate and I can’t wait to get the first game against Korea underway.”
It has been a big year for Helen, aged 32. Following major back surgery on a ruptured disc, the Reading star won her 150th England cap at the EuroHockey Championships and recently married her GB team captain Kate Richardson-Walsh. However, there are no signs of slowing down with her sights firmly fixed on even greater honours.
“For me my goals are quite simple, I’ve won a lot of international medals but never a gold. I want to win European, World and Olympic gold, so still plenty to be getting on with! In terms of playing time I want to play until at least Rio, that’s my target. I couldn’t say that I’ll definitely quit after that because I love the game and who knows how I’ll feel but winning an Olympic gold in Rio would be quite a way to go out!”
Watch England at the World League (30 November – 8 December) via the FIH Youtube channel. http://www.fih.ch/en/home