SHC Life in Lockdown Series, #4:
Keeping the Conversation Going
By Surbiton HC
In this series of short interviews, we will talk to a range of club members to find out what they’ve been up to during lockdown. We will cover work, hobbies and life in general… if you have a story to tell, or you know of another club member who does, Beckie would love to hear from you.
SHC Life in Lockdown Series, #4: Keeping the Conversation Going
While her GB Hockey commitments were on hold during lockdown, SHC Ladies 1 player Emily Defroand went on a mission from her kitchen table: she created ‘Cuppa & a Natter’ to keep the conversation going about women’s sport over a cup of tea and a video chat with some big stars from hockey and beyond.
“I am hugely passionate about sport and women’s sport in particular. After several years of increasing awareness, coverage and participation, the coronavirus pandemic threatened to break the momentum that women’s sport has built. However, I saw this unprecedented period as an opportunity to create more noise about women’s sport than ever before.
With it also being a time of such uncertainty and stress for so many in their every day lives, I wanted to provide some light-hearted positivity whilst also celebrating the achievements of some remarkable sportswomen that have inspired me during my life.
Two of my favourite things are drinking tea (preferably with a few biscuits) and talking to people so I put all of this together and created ‘Cuppa & a Natter’!
This turned into a twice weekly 30 minute Instagram Live chat with some of the most inspiring sportswomen in the country, involving three main questions and a few twists and challenges along the way! On Monday 20th April my weird and wonderful idea ‘Cuppa & a Natter’ became a reality.
Initially I drew up a ‘wish list’ of individuals I would love to share a ‘cuppa’ and have a ‘natter’ with. My 18 guests were a real mixture: some I knew personally, some I had crossed paths with in the past, some I knew through a mutual connection, and some I just introduced myself directly via the wonders of social media. Most of my non-hockey guests I have never spoken to or met in person but I was so humbled by how generous they all were by agreeing to be a part of it. Proof not only that these women are inspirational, super-talented athletes but also that they are true class acts as people too.
From the very first episode I received comments as to why I was only focusing on sportswomen and in doing so failing to reflect sport on the whole. I was questioned as to why I was trying to branch out away from hockey to sports that I have little understanding or experience of playing myself. I’ve also had no form of media training or experience of interviewing others. But when there is something that I am as passionate about as I am for women’s sport and celebrating other people’s achievements, I was determined to make ‘Cuppa & a Natter’ a success.
I had to pinch myself throughout the nine weeks when speaking to these remarkable women. I interviewed a diverse group of athletes from 11 different sports including Olympians and Paralympians; Olympic, World, Commonwealth, European and British medallists. Each episode was unique and provided a completely different direction of discussion. I had the pleasure of speaking to some of my best friends within hockey; athletes who I idolised when I was a young girl and also sportswomen who I have admired through their successes in recent years as a fellow elite athlete.
Imposter syndrome definitely kicked in from the get go. Although I am very proud of what I have achieved in my three and a half years as a senior international hockey player, I have not come anywhere near the impressive heights of my guests. Nevertheless the support I have received throughout has been overwhelming and I am so pleased that people have enjoyed listening to it as much as I have creating it.
I had friends joking that I was using the word “illustrious” every two minutes or that they had lost count of how many guests I would tell, “I could talk to you for hours”. But when you are in the presence of sporting greats who have achieved as much as these women have, I fear that the word “illustrious” is not strong enough. Plus forget a 30 minute chat – if I had my way I would be digging for insight for at least 30 hours!
With restrictions gradually being lifted by the government and some form of ‘normality’ slowly coming back into our lives, it felt like the right time to conclude. With the return to GB Hockey centralised training, I am very much looking forward to getting back to ‘the day job’ and being back on the hockey pitch with my teammates. I am also aware that other athletes are experiencing a similar return to training so their availability for a chinwag over a cuppa at 5pm on a weeknight is now less likely too!
But it goes without saying that I have loved every minute! An added, unexpected bonus is that I now have all the gear … I have an incredible logo designed with the help of Scottish Canoeist Eilidh Gibson, two ‘Cuppa & a Natter’ mugs, a portable phone stand and even a personalised velvet folder to keep my notes together courtesy of my Surbiton and GB teammate Giselle Ansley.
And I think I have some more ideas too – this is only the start of what I would love to continue growing. So watch this space... I definitely plan to continue celebrate the achievements of so many more remarkable sportswomen, increasing the coverage and attention that they deserve!”
All episodes of ‘Cuppa & a Natter’ are available here