At only 28 years old, Chloe Watkins is already a hockey veteran, having made her senior debut for Ireland in 2010, only a few months after completing her Leaving Cert. She’s now 200 game appearances into her career and has her sights firmly set on Olympic achievement at this year’s games in Tokyo. While the games themselves are now on shaky ground, Chloe’s chances of making the squad are high and the midfielder has been an integral part of the Irish team since her international career kicked off.
“That’s one thing that’s significant about our team, we have a very close-knit culture. It’s something we’ve worked on though. I don’t think any of us could be playing and training without that kind of culture now.”
But it’s not her individual contributions to the squad’s achievements that motivates Chloe. Her references to the sense of community that they’ve built and how important it remains to enjoy what you’re doing are central to how she speaks of her career and her experience as a player. When she references her teammates, she focuses on the culture they’ve all contributed to, saying, “That’s one thing that’s significant about our team, we have a very close-knit culture. It’s something we’ve worked on though. I don’t think any of us could be playing and training without that kind of culture now.”
You get out what you put in, she says, both on and off the pitch and as the team pushes ahead with Olympic training the camaraderie that exists plays an important role as 25 athletes vie for only 16 Olympic squad slots. “It’s a big challenge for the squad - the selection piece is huge and not everyone can go. That’s where the culture comes in… We have an honest forum and if something hasn’t gone right, we can tell each other. But there’s safety there, we have such good craic together.” A safe forum for feedback + a healthy dose of competition partnered with support is something that Chloe recognises as foundational to her continued success as a player.
“We have an honest forum and if something hasn’t gone right, we can tell each other. But there’s safety there, we have such good craic together.”
And the other key piece? A continued love of playing: “That enjoyment has always been a big factor for me. The moment I stop enjoying it is when I have to retire. If you didn’t love it, God, you couldn’t do it!” The ten-year dream of playing on an Olympic squad is now within reach and as the competition to make the squad heats up, Chloe remains grateful to be in the position to be selected. Though she says some days can be trying, mentally and physically, the motivation remains strong: “We’ve waited ten years for this. Sure, the bad days are tough, but the chance to compete [knowing] how privileged we are to be here gets you through.”
We couldn’t have said it better! Rain or shine there’s a nation behind this team and it’s athletes like Chloe Watkins that underline just how far community, camaraderie and a little bit of competition can go to keep you motivated to keep going!