Ipswich Hockey Club’s Sophie Sunderland given England Under-18s call
- Credit: Archant
Ambitious Sophie Sunderland has joined Suffolk’s growing international contingent and is targeting full England honours in the future.
The 16-year-old Ipswich Hockey Club player has been called up for an England under-18 strength and conditioning camp at Lilleshall on December 22, ahead of next August’s under-18 European Championships in Dublin.
Framlingham College student Sunderland’s inclusion at the camp does not guarantee her a place in any future England squad but it is a step in the right direction for the former Ipswich High School pupil, who hails from Assington, near Sudbury.
The teenager joins fellow Suffolk starlets Fran Tew, Kitty McWhirter, Hannah Martin, Clare Poole and Sophie Hart in being recognised by England age group squads in the recent past, and said she was delighted with her call, following a two-day assessment.
“I found out last week and being young it was quite unexpected. My family were quite emotional,” she revealed.
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“I wasn’t expecting to play for England this year but my coaches at Ipswich Hockey Club and Framlingham College have always told me that I could do it.
“Now I have been selected, I am going to try and break into the under-18s this year, then maybe the full senior squad eventually. It’s definitely worth working towards.
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“The standard will be higher than I am used to, both in terms of fitness and ability but I am going to give it my all.”
Sunderland’s love for the game began at Sudbury Hockey Club and she has gone on to become a vital member of the Ipswich team that made club history this year, reaching the national indoor and outdoor finals.
“I have been putting in a huge amount of training every day and have been having a few extra sessions,” added Sunderland, who may look to pursue a hockey scholarship in the US.
“I believe in myself and I will go to the camp knowing I have nothing to lose.”