It’s only a matter of days before Scotland join England and Ireland in the Netherlands where the EuroHockey Championship I is set to get underway. The week promises to be dripping with incredible talent, where nothing really comes close to representing your country in a sport that is more than just a game, it’s a way of life.
That is exactly how Amy Costello feels; a proud Scot who has been chosen as part of the GB squad as well as wearing the blues and purples of the northern Celtic nation. She has played in many dramatic games, and been a pivotal player for Scotland, as well as her Birmingham University club, for years.
Hockey players are known for their bravery. Amy definitely personifies this as she has suffered a recent blow to the lip in May, which needed 10 stitches in order to get the healing process started. Luckily, she was wearing her OPRO gum shield; can you imagine how much worse it could have been? Amy really is a role model and someone to learn from, especially with courage and resilience that she portrays due to her determination to get back on the turf asap.
I’m glad we got the opportunity to grill Amy a little before her journey over the sea to play in the Euros as I wanted to know her thoughts about game day, women’s sport this summer and what she’s hoping for the future. Really, we’re lucky we have so many tremendous personalities within hockey, and Amy is definitely one of them.
Hey Amy, thanks for chatting to us. How long have you been playing hockey for?
9 years. I started playing in school in PE and really enjoyed it so decided to join a club outside of school.
School hockey is so important, and a start for many. Tell us what your favourite things about ‘game day’ are?
Going along the corridor and hearing everyone’s music blaring in their rooms as they get their strips on creates such a buzz. I like getting my hair all perfect before leaving to go on the bus. Also when you step on the pitch to sing the national anthem.
All about the plait hey?! Scotland have recently had a very successful test series vs France, winning all three games and scoring 12 goals. What was the message from the changing room before each game?
The message was to go out onto the pitch, be confident and enjoy playing. It was to go out and express ourselves but play as a team and put into place what we have been working on in training. If things weren’t going to plan to take responsibility and fix it.
You had a bit of a tough test series vs Wales. What were the learning points from this?
We must set the tempo or be up to the game tempo from the start. This is something that also came out of World League. We can’t expect time to settle into a match because you can be punished for this. We learned to be confident in our ability and our potentially which then allows us to play our game and means we aren’t nervous on the ball which means we make mistakes. But ultimately just to enjoy it and ignore the expectations and just play.
You’re heading to the Netherlands for the European Championships by the 18th of August. What are you most looking forward to ahead of this tournament?
Playing against top international teams. And expressing what we, Scotland, as a nation have to offer and show that we can compete with these teams if we play to our full potential.
You’re set to play against England, Germany and Ireland. Who will be your toughest opposition and why?
Personally, I think it’ll be England as I know most of the girls, but all the games will be tough. Ireland are closely ranked to us and having played them in multiple test series; we know how each other play and it is usually a very close game.
Germany having just come second at World League in South Africa will be confident going into the competition.
England, we know well and will be excited to get out and compete to retain their European status. We need to go into each game knowing we can compete but with respect for the teams we are up against.
Women in sport are currently going through a ‘golden’ summer, according to your English counterpart Alex Danson. What are your thoughts about the state of women in sport?
More women of all ages and ability are beginning to participate in sport and I feel this is due to the success of the teams and the media progression as more people are talking about it and want to get involved. There are also a lot more opportunities for women and girls to join clubs all over the country and the availability and encouragement is greater which I think is brilliant for the future.
What needs to happen so we take it to the next level?
I think as much as there has been a progression there could still be a step up in media coverage because it gets people talking about it. If there are events on and it’s covered in the media it gets people talking about the sport even if they are going to go along, they are aware it’s happening. But a lot also comes down to funding.
With you on that one! How do you think we can encourage more girls and women to partake in hockey?
I think more media coverage of the game will continue to allow hockey to grow as it gets people talking about it. More hockey events get people along of all ages and allows them to maybe pick up a stick for the first time.
Very true, that’s why it’s important to talk as much as possible. What’s next on your ‘bucket list’?
For Scotland to come top six at the Euros 2017 would be fantastic but, individually, I would love to be selected to represent Scotland at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games out in Australia, 2018.
All the best with everything Amy, I’m confident you’ll be superb and really put your stamp on the tournament next week and beyond!