Sunday, June 23, 2024

Hockey Social: For Dad to see me in Wales Masters shirt was a great moment

In our regular anything goes Q&A, we speak to players and coaches on topics ranging from temptations, influences, fashion sense and match teas. This time: Welsh over-40 Masters player Hilary Williams

Nickname: People just call me ‘Hils’ now because I’m old!!! But when I was younger it was either the ‘Machine’ or ‘Munchkin.’ Machine because I never stopped running on a hockey pitch and Munchkin because I am so short! They were never used together!

Where do you live? Cardiff but I’m still a Valley’s girl at heart.

Current playing activity: I play for Whitchurch Saints HC and Wales over-40s.

When and where did you start playing hockey? I first picked up a hockey stick in 1989. I was in Form 1 of Tonypandy Comprehensive School. 

It was part of the PE lessons. I was given a wooden stick with a very large hook at the end and a rock-hard ball! Our first drill was to dribble the ball around the tarmac yard and not lose control of the ball. Mrs Capel (Hockey teacher) kept on shouting at me. I was a footballer so naturally wanted to kick the ball and did not see the point in the sport. I was also a mischievous pupil, so I tried to hit everyone else’s ball so that they did indeed lose control of the ball.

When and where did you first play Masters? For the Welsh over 35s in 2014 at Aldershot. We played in an intergenerational tournament against England, Australia and the Army. It was the first time Wales attempted to put together a 35s team.

What attracted you to Masters hockey? I only really ever got as far as the Glamorgan county squad when I was younger; I was chosen for the Regional over-18 Squad but it seemed like a token gesture. Numerous times being told I was fat and unfit! My aim was to play for my country, no matter how long it took and at what age. When I heard about the Masters, Wales didn’t really have an over-35s squad so I just helped out with managing the over-40s Welsh Masters Squad. I immediately enjoyed the camaraderie, the friendships, the travelling and meeting hockey players from all over the world who still have a passion for the sport that I love too.

Best memories: I have three – representing Wales over-40s in the Home Nations in Swansea. That meant the most as my family was able to come and watch me play. My parents have supported me all through my life, they have been with me through my highs and lows in life but especially in a sporting context and are my No.1 fans.

Dad used to take me all over the South Wales valleys to play and train and to see his face as I walked out onto the pitch was one of the best moments in my life. The second is coaching the over-55s to fourth place in the European Competition in Krefeld. Lastly, managing the over-40s squad in the World Cup in Australia. 

Worst moment: When I was coaching the over 55s, I didn’t particularly like choosing my 18 players due to my own experience of not getting into squads! I know what that feels like! 

Your best clubhouse story: Meeting my future wife in hockey and hopefully tying the knot this December (fingers crossed Covid stays away!)

Best thing about master’s hockey: That there are now so many opportunities available for all ages. Players, men and women can now play international hockey into their 70s! That is amazing! It’s just getting better and better in every aspect – coaching, playing standard, tournaments, opportunities. Not many sports can offer that from the time you begin playing through to retirement!

Why do you keep playing? Just love the game, love the people I play with, the people I play against and most importantly my body is still allowing me to play. 

The NET Over 35 and Over 40 Masters World Cups is taking place at Nottingham Hockey Centre between Aug 12-21

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  1. What an inspiring story and so great to meet and make friends with Hils and Avril through the NET Hockey Masters World Cup. The hockey family keeps growing!


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