Van Berkel handed England chance

Rebecca van Berkel. Picture: Frank Uijlenbroek / England Hockey
Rebecca van Berkel. Picture: Frank Uijlenbroek / England Hockey
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Rebecca van Berkel is determined to grasp her opportunity after being handed an unexpected England senior chance.

The 19-year-old rising star, from Widley, played her part in the under-21s gaining an unexpected fourth place at the recent Junior World Cup in Germany.

Her performances have clearly caught the eye of the national selectors who have invited her to attend a series of trial sessions for the senior squad later this month.

But while the teenager, who studies physiotherapy at Birmingham University, admits it was a shock call-up, she is now keen to make the most of the opportunity to join the senior ranks.

She said: ‘I wasn’t expecting it this year. It’s always been on the cards and that is what I want to do, but not this early.

‘It’s my second year at under-21s. I played last year as well so I don’t know why they have asked me for trials but I can’t wait.

‘Now it’s down to me to take the opportunity.

‘I’m not going with high expectations but I will do my best.

‘If this year they say “you are not quite ready” then I will go away and work harder.

‘But you can’t pass up an opportunity like this and you’ve got to give it a good go.

‘At least, you are doing something right if you are invited to the trials.’

The former Havant defender was part of the squad who just missed out on a bronze medal at the recent Junior World Cup.

They eventually lost to India on penalties in the play-off match after a 1-1 draw.

But a 1-0 quarter-final victory over favourites Australia showed England have plenty of young talent coming through the ranks.

They then suffered a 3-0 semi-final loss to eventual runners-up Argentina.

Van Berkel said: ‘The Junior World Cup was an amazing experience.

‘If anyone had said we would finish fourth before we went, it wouldn’t have crossed our minds.

‘We were hoping to get out of the pool and in the top eight.

‘But we weren’t expecting much else.

‘Then we beat Australia in the quarter-finals and we have never beaten them in any match before.

‘That was an amazing game. It was a massive upset.

‘We got 1-0 up early in the game and then just defended for our lives.

‘It wasn’t the prettiest game of hockey.

‘But you’ve got to win them and it gave us a lot of confidence.

‘It’s was hard to lose out on a medal but the overall experience was incredible.’