Jones hoping to inspire new generation of Welsh stars

Jones v Australia FIH Pro League
Sarah Jones says she'll be far from the only Welsh player in the Great Britain women's hockey squad in a few years’ time.

The 28-year-old, from Lisvane, is the only player from the principality to have featured in the inaugural season of the FIH Pro League.

But with the Elite Development Programme now in place, the former Howells School pupil expects plenty of her fellow compatriots to follow in her footsteps.

"I'm massively proud to fly the flag for Wales," said Jones.

"To pull on a Welsh shirt is something I'd dreamt of doing since I was very young, and being able to represent Wales for GB is something I'm enormously proud of.

"I do hope to see lots of Welsh players coming through in the years to come and now they have a platform to do so.

"The Elite Development Programme offers a genuine pathway and I'm just so happy that's in place now.

"I think as with anything the amount of hard work you put into something, the level of enjoyment is higher depending on how much work you've had to put in.

"I had to work extremely hard to get those 91 caps for Wales and for those GB caps too.

"If you enjoy the process of working hard and continuously trying to be better, going out on that pitch every day to work hard, there will be a lot more caps to come."

The tenacious midfielder, who plays for Holcombe Hockey Club, represented Wales at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Following in the footsteps of Abergavenny's Rose Thomas, Jones made a long-awaited Great Britain debut in 2018 after amassing 91 Welsh caps.

While qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is yet to be secured, Mark Hager's side are planning a trip to Japan to acclimatise to conditions with a year to go.

There won't be any surprises for Jones, however, who played for Wales in Kuala Lumpur back in 2016 and has holidayed extensively in Asia.

"I think certainly there are no conditions that can be compared to the humidity and heat we'd experience in Japan," she said.

"I think having a period away in Japan at a similar time of year to the Olympics next year is invaluable for our preparation.

"I've been to Thailand and Vietnam on holiday and played in Kuala Lumpur for Wales three years ago.

"I'd definitely recommend them as holiday destinations, but as an athlete I wasn't prepared for that level of humidity.

"I think it's important you understand personally how you respond to those conditions and to bond as a team, too."

Great Britain Men and Women face New Zealand in a unique FIH Pro League double-header at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday, 23 June. Tickets still available here.