Issue 7 sports

An interview with: Shona McCallin

We had a chat with Shona McCallin MBE, GB Hockey Player, and Olympic Champion.

“Have I always known what I wanted to do as a career? Nope! And not sure I even do now. Growing up there wasn’t the opportunity to be a professional hockey player in the UK. 

It was only in 2009 when this changed and UK Sport funding came in and supported hockey. Alongside hockey I have a strong interest in nutrition, health, fitness, and training meaning post hockey career I hope to work in a similar industry. I have a business degree so hope to use this too.

Why hockey? The teamwork, learning new skills, fitness, meeting new people and the social aspect is all a draw.”

British hockey star, Shona McCallin, began playing hockey at the age of six and has since found herself on a rapid ascent through the ranks of elite international players. In 2007 she made her International debut on England’s U16 squad, in what would be the first of a remarkable 85 junior international caps.

Shona was introduced to hockey at a young age by her Mum, as a means to expel some energy. She joined the junior section at Newark HC, where her sister played too. By the age of 14, Shona made the decision to focus on hockey, rather than football, as her evolution as a player began to advance. 

“The biggest challenge in my career came after being injured for 17 months where I nearly gave up. However, a major highlight in my career so far has been Winning Rio 2016, securing Qualification to Tokyo 2020”

From the English U16’s, U18’s and, ultimately, as the captain of the England and GB U21’s, Shona developed a reputation for being a driving force in the midfield. Scoring 13 goals and multiple medals along the way, Shona’s success included leading England to its highest-ever finish at the Junior World Cup in 2013. 

Simultaneously, she attended Tilburg University and trained in Holland at MOP HC under the leadership of coach Toon Siepman. It was during this time that Shona honed her game among the world’s best, evolving into the player that she is today.

“My advice for women wanting to break into hockey is to believe in yourself because if you’re not going to nobody else will. Push your limits, you can go further mentally and physically then you think. Make training fun, get a buddy, train with other people.

Unlike a lot of sports, there isn’t a lack of women role models and mentors in hockey, and every day in the job is different. A typical day includes me pushing myself, laughing with teammates, bonding with teammates and travelling the world. There is so much opportunity and progression.

The only time I have felt like I’ve had to prove myself more than my male counterparts was when I used to play football with the boys up until the age of 12 or 13.  I was always the only girl and pre-matches boys used to laugh at me. Post-match = no laughing! 

As a woman in sport the changes I think need to be made to encourage young girls into sports as a profession include better media coverage, to attract more people to watch it, for it to be free to air on TV and to encourage sports at school.”

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