Q&A with Devon’s hockey star Giselle Ansley

England's Giselle Ansley

England's Giselle Ansley - Credit: Ady Kerry

We talk to England and Team GB’s young star about her career so far and her World Cup hopes

Giselle Ansley may be only 21-years-old, but she is one of the country’s shining stars in the hockey world. After growing up in Kingsbridge, she slowly made her name known on the international team and hasn’t looked back since.

Did your love of hockey begin while you were at school in Devon?

I started playing mainly because my mum used to play at Paignton Hockey Club. I used to watch her from the side of the pitch and I suppose it was only a matter of time before I picked up a stick for myself.

My first club was Ivybridge Hockey Club when I was eight, then as I got older I moved to Dartmouth Hockey Club and then Plymouth Marjons Hockey Club. I also started playing hockey as school, which was all down to Mum who took up the coaching role.

After school I went to Loughborough University and carried on playing there whilst studying for my Sport and Exercise Science degree.

You now play for Surbiton – how did you get on to the team?

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Once joining the GB centralised programme at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre I had to relocate and travelling back up to Loughborough to keep playing there would have been too hard. I spoke to a few of the girls in the squad who played there and they recommended it. It’s a great place to play hockey with a real family atmosphere.

How did you get on to the GB team?

I played county hockey for Devon and when I was 17 I got into the Wessex Leopards team. Martin Rodgers, who was coaching the England Under 18 side at the time, came down to watch a few of our games and, although I didn’t catch his eye straight away, I gradually improved and went onto represent England Under 18s for six months and then the Under 21s. By this time I was on the radar and when I left Loughborough Uni, where I’d been playing in the Investec Conference, I went to Bisham Abbey to join the centralised GB programme.

You now have 33 international caps – when did you join the GB team?

My first cap for England was in February 2013 against South Africa. My first GB cap was in San Diego this year against America.

How did it feel when you played your first game as part of the England team?

I was not expecting to be called up to the full England squad; I was so shocked! It was an unbelievable experience and I loved every second of it. I was so grateful to have been given the opportunity to play for my country; it’s an incredible honour.

The World Cup and the Commonwealth Games are this year – will they be your first major tournaments?

I played in the Euro Hockey Championships and World League 3 and 4 last year where we won two silvers and a bronze. They were great experiences, particularly the World League in Argentina where the crowd was deafening as we beat Argentina to Bronze. However, the World Cup will be the biggest tournament I’ve played in – if I’m selected!

How do you fancy the England team’s World Cup chances? We got bronze in the World League and silver at the Europeans and on the back of those good results we’ll definitely be looking to medal, but ultimately we want to win. We’ve come so close over the years to a gold medal and feel we’re capable of it.

How often do you train? I’m full time with England so train Monday to Friday with them and then with Surbiton on Thursday evenings who I then play for on Saturdays.

Do you enjoy coming back to Devon and relaxing? I don’t get home as often as I’d like. I love it at home but normally only get the chance to sneak a day here or there as training is such a commitment and then we play at weekends. When I’m at home I spend most of my time with my family. I love to go walking on the coast path between Bantham and Thurlestone – it’s so beautiful. I also love going to Bantham beach – although I’m not much of a surfer I love swimming in the sea and body boarding. Kayaking is also a huge passion of mine and I get on the river as much as possible when Im back.

If you weren’t a hockey player, what profession would you have gone into?

I think I’d have to do something in sport. Something with my Exercise Science degree in cricket, hockey, swimming or tennis, although I love all sports! I really enjoy coaching but I’m not sure I’d have the patience to be a teacher.

Otherwise I’ve always had a passion for baking which isn’t the greatest thing as a full time athlete! Perhaps I’d have a bakery or a café - I make a mean white chocolate and raspberry cake!

What are your hopes for the future?

To win gold at the Olympics - can you imagine! Apart from that I’d like to play hockey for as long as my body will allow and then carry on my career in some kind of sports field.

Investec, the specialist bank and asset manager, support women’s hockey from grass roots level through to England and Great Britain - investec.co.uk/hockey or on Twitter, @Investec_sport