HOCKEY: Emma to play for England in World Cup

Emma Olifent in goal for England
Emma Olifent in goal for England

Goalkeeper is first member of Rugby & East Warwickshire Hockey Club’s ladies’ section ever to play at international level

Goalkeeper Emma Olifent has been selected to represent England in the Masters World Cup later this month. It makes her the first member of Rugby & East Warwickshire Hockey Club’s ladies’ section ever to play at international level.

The ladies' section of Rugby & East Warwickshire Hockey Club now has triple involvement in the England Masters set-up, with (from left) coach Sue Sutton, club chair Julia Bower being manager of the Over 60s and Emma Olifent playing for the Over 45s

The ladies' section of Rugby & East Warwickshire Hockey Club now has triple involvement in the England Masters set-up, with (from left) coach Sue Sutton, club chair Julia Bower being manager of the Over 60s and Emma Olifent playing for the Over 45s

Emma, will be in the Over 45s squad, which is already proving incredibly successful.

In the Home Nations championships in Swansea last month England scored 18 goals on their way to gold, when the other teams could only manage one goal between them!

Then last weekend at the UK Armed Forces tournament, England were the unbeaten champions, winning all five of their games against the British police, armed forces, Wales O40s and 45s and the civil service 4-0, 5-1, 3-0, 2-1 and 3-0 respectively.

“It was another awesome performance by our squad and excellent preparation for the world championships in Spain, especially the heat!” said Emma, 45, a teaching assistant at English Martyrs Catholic Primary School.

England Over 45s

England Over 45s

As well as a fantastic record in these competitions, Emma has also had a tremendous season for the club. The Ladies’ 1st XI achieved their third successive promotion, earning them a place in Midlands Division 1 for the autumn and a top-six shortlisting for England Hockey Ladies’ team of the year award.

The Rugby & East Warwickshire 2nd and 3rd XIs were also promoted.

“ I only conceded 12 goals all season, but I was trying to keep it in single figures,” said Emma, who is just short of 5ft 3in tall. “Last season it was 11 so I really wanted to beat that!

“I just love being in goal, it’s something I’ve always done, since I was at school when the PE teacher told me I was too small to be a goalkeeper. At the age of 14 it was like a red rag to a bull!

“I’m very competitive and keeping the ball out of the back of the goal is key. I love coming off the pitch thinking that’s another clean sheet - although of course it’s not just me, it’s a whole team effort. I’m always very determined not to let the ball in!”

Emma is looking forward to England’s pool games in Spain, against the hosts, Argentina, USA, Russia and Wales, before hopefully progressing to the knock-out stages.

Fortunately England have been such a dominant force so far, Emma has yet to experience a game being decided on penalties, but prefers the newer penalty shuffle rather than strokes.

“Most players should score from penalty strokes and they give the keeper very little chance,” she said. “With the shuffle you can close them down and hopefully keep them out, but I hope it won’t come down to that!”

The R&EW ladies’ coach Sue Sutton also coaches the England Masters and at the Grand Masters World Cup last month the Over 60s team won gold, scoring 46 goals and conceding none, which was quite some achievement.

“It was Sue who suggested I should go to an England trial,” explained Emma, who has enjoyed ten seasons with the club.

“This is my second season of trialling and this time I was successful, which feels amazing to be able to play for England. I’m still pinching myself that I’m actually representing my country. I feel honoured and immensely proud. All the hard work has been worth it.”