We start our International Women’s Day celebrations with an interview with one of Great Britain and England’s most respected athletes.
Alex Danson-Bennett used to set hockey hearts fluttering with her mazy dribbling, incredible work rate and ability to score goals from the cutest of angles. Now her own heart flutters as she holds her newly-born baby Ava and talks about the women who have influenced and inspired her throughout her hockey career.
“For me it is very simple, I have had the most incredible female role models in my life and they have impacted who I have become and the choices I have made,” says the gold medal-winning athlete.
“Following in their footsteps I hope I can do the same for this little one [Ava]. I hope that I can guide her. I hope I can raise her to be strong, independent and that you put your mind and soul into something and work harder than you know is possible.”
Among the strong women who have played such prominent roles in Danson’s own career, she talks about former England Head Coach Tricia Heberle, former England Hockey CEO Sally Munday and her own mother. “My mum has been the most encouraging supportive person I could ever have had to look up to. It was always about having fun. She never pushed me but she gave me helping hand when I needed it.
“Sally Munday just oozed fun and enjoyment and instilled professionalism into us. Tricia Heberle said to me when I received my first cap: ‘To represent England is not enough, she taught us that it was about how we trained, how we spoke to our fellow teammates and how we could be the best we could be.”
In perhaps the most touching parts of this video, Danson pays tribute to the travelling reserves who accompanied the Great Britain team to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Ellie Watton, Joey Leigh and Kirsty McKay were all in Rio throughout the Olympics but were never called upon to play. It is a level of sacrifice that still chokes Danson as she describes the attitudes of the three players.
“The character and personalities of those three were fundamental to our team. They didn’t receive a medal at the end and they didn’t play for one minute of any game. But, my goodness the friendship and professionalism they showed is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life and I will try to emulate that in any way I can.”
Danson, who finished her international career with more than 300 caps [combined England and Great Britain], concludes her interview by calling on people around the world to come together to celebrate strong women from every sphere of life.