Molly Redgrove is living the dream. The 16-year-old from Sudbury is in the England age group hockey squad which takes on Holland, at Easter.
Molly, a former member of Sudbury Hockey Club, who is in her first season with Harleston Magpies in the National League, spent half-term training at the National Sports Centre at Lilleshall as part of the England Under-16 squad.
This is her first England call-up, something she has dreamed of since the age of 11, and followed a series of assessment dates for players from all over the country. From several thousand players who took part in these trials, just 26 made the final cut for Lilleshall.
The half-term training camp and the Holland fixture are part of England’s build-up to the Six Nations competition in July, when the squad will be cut to 16.
Framlingham College student Molly started playing at the age of seven, when she joined Sudbury. “I only went due to the persistence of my closest friend as a time to get together and have some fun,” she said. “Since then I’ve never looked back.”
Hockey very quickly became the passion, and Molly started playing for Sudbury and at school. “Some things in life you just stumble across, and when something becomes a passion, you have to chase that passion,” she said.
Molly, who describes herself as ‘very competitive’, first started dreaming of playing for England at the age of 11. “But at 13 I realised my dream couldn’t happen overnight, and I would have to work much harder and consistently to get better.
“From then on I started my own personal training, playing hockey in the garden, sitting room, kitchen, in fact anywhere I could.”
Mark Dudley, under-14s/under-16s head coach at Sudbury, was her first coach. He recalls Molly being quiet and shy when she first joined the club, “except on the hockey pitch where she came alive with a highly focused desire to win every ball”.
At Sudbury her tenacity earned her the nickname Tiger, and she was a key part of the successful under-14 Sudbury girls’ team that reached the East of England finals and won a tournament in France, as well as representing Suffolk at every level.
“Molly is a shining example of what a child can achieve if they have the determination and grit to succeed, and are supported by their parents and coaches, either at school or at a club,” said Dudley.
Hockey is very much a family affair, with parents Cathie and Nick providing the necessary chauffeuring as they travel to games in support.
Twin sister Chloe – they celebrated their 16th birthdays last week – is a training partner when needed. Chloe is still at Sudbury, where they played together, and they have both played for the school team.