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Canterbury Ladies captain Grace Balsdon excited after being called into GB squad and will represent England at EuroHockey Indoor Championships

16 January 2014
by Alex Hoad

Canterbury's Grace Balsdon is closed down by her former teammate Susannah Townsend, playing for Bowdon Hightown. Picture Ady Kerry

Canterbury's Grace Balsdon is closed down by her former teammate Susannah Townsend, playing for Bowdon Hightown. Picture: Ady Kerry

Canterbury Ladies captain Grace Balsdon spoke of her excitement after being drafted into the GB squad – and is already preparing for her full international bow with England’s indoor side.

The 20-year-old from Chilham, a former Kent College pupil and a current PE and Sport Science student at Canterbury Christ Church University, began a part-time contract with the GB women’s performance squad at the start of the month.

The midfielder – who came through the ranks at Polo Farm and has represented her country from under-16 to under-21 level – has since been named in the England party for the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, later this month and four warm-up matches against Scotland in Perth this weekend.

Balsdon said: “I am still trying to get my head around it. It has all happened very quickly, but it’s a great opportunity for me.

“After the Junior World Cup last summer a group of us were selected to train at Bisham Abbey with the squad. We were told it wasn’t an assessment but really it was.

“From there five of us were asked to train with the GB squad two days a week for a while and just before the squad left for the World League in Argentina in December two of us were asked by (coach) Jason Lee if we would accept part-time contracts.”

During GB training Balsdon stayed with her predecessor as Canterbury skipper, Susannah Townsend, who switched to Reading last summer to cut down on travelling to and from Bisham Abbey.

Balsdon said: “I was staying on the couch at Susie’s but I think (Canterbury teammate and Scotland star) Nikki Kidd has a spare room so I’ll be staying with her.

“I am still trying to finish my final year at University so I’ll still be back in Canterbury a couple of days a week and I should be able to train as normal on Thursdays.

“The club have been really encouraging and very supportive. I have come through the junior section at the club so I suppose it’s good to have someone in this position to aspire to."

She added: “I was under-nine when I first started. I think my parents wanted to drop me somewhere while they played tennis at Polo Farm.

"I remember the first session I was more interested in using the stick to draw patterns in the sand on the pitch. I don’t know what my parents must have thought.”

In Prague England begin their Pool A campaign against the Netherlands on Friday, January 24, and face the host nation that evening, before their final group game against Germany the following morning.

Balsdon added: “It’s a really exciting time. After the Europeans there are the four nations and the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. I’ll just continue to train hard and see what happens.”

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