After competing in her first Commonwealth Games and claiming her 50th cap for Wales in Birmingham, Sophie Robinson has announced her retirement from international hockey.
Sophie made her international debut for Wales in 2007 at the Celtic Cup, before taking an eight year break from the international scene. She returned in 2018 and has gone on to represent Wales in European Championships, World Cup Qualifiers, and the recent 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Being open and honest about her mental health, Sophie admits it has been a tough decision and her retirement has come a bit earlier than anticipated.
“This wasn't the easiest of decisions at all, but I have spoken openly about my mental health and think it's very important to talk about this."
"Although I’ve had some hurdles to overcome during the last few years with my mental health, this wasn't the only factor that influenced my decision to retire. At 33 (34 next month) I felt that this was the right time to focus on me and my family.”
“I didn't know the Commonwealth Games was going to be my final tournament with the squad, I was expecting to compete in the European Qualifier in Durham. However, despite the amazing experience and achievements at the Games, there were also mental and physical struggles.”
“I sat down with the management team after the South Africa match [last match of the Games] and spoke about the quick turn around and how that would affect my health. It was only right that we agreed to finish my career at the Commonwealths.”
Looking back on her career and her 54 appearances for Wales, Sophie said it has been “an honour and privilege. It's had many highs and lows but the whole experience from start to finish is something I will cherish for many years and I'm excited to share with my children one day.”
“There are many moments in my international career that I will forever be grateful for and proud of, but for me there are two outstanding ones.”
“First, being welcomed back into the squad after eight years out. After eight years and at the age of 30, you start to think that international hockey is not an option for you until the Masters. But I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity again and when I sang the anthem again in France with the girls, it was an incredible moment.”
“My second has to be having all my family and friends come and watch me on the biggest stage for a Welsh hockey player at the Commonwealth Games. To share that with them was emotional yet so rewarding."
"The time and commitment my family and friends have put in over the years to help me get there and see them in the crowd was overwhelming and amazing.”
Sophie makes no secret of her mental health over the years and, showing the bond of the squad and management staff, she admits they have been a huge factor in keeping her playing for as long as she has.
“I’ve mentioned a lot about my mental health. If it wasn't for this group of players and management staff, I would have been announcing my retirement a few years ago. Their support and friendship are what I will miss the most.”
“Most people think international sports is hard work, which it is don't get me wrong, but when you do it with friends around you, it makes all the early mornings, late drives home etc. all worth it.”
“All players, past and present, are friends for life. I can't thank them all enough for making this experience rewarding and so much fun!”
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Hockey Wales for their support and hard work behind the scenes.” Sophie added.
“I would also like to thank the amazing management team for all their support and everything they have done for me on and off the pitch. They have all gone above and beyond and I can't thank them enough.”
“To all the players I have had the honour and privilege to play alongside, thanks for the memories. I wish you all the best and look forward to what you can all achieve next!”
Hockey Wales Head of Performance and Women’s Head Coach Kevin Johnson said,
“Whilst I am sad to see ‘Robbo’ announce her retirement from international hockey after Birmingham, it has been a real pleasure working with her since her return to our programme."
"I would like to publicly thank her for her effort, contribution, and teamship, both on and off the pitch.”
“Robbo is a very technically gifted player who has also been generous with her time and experience in helping some of our younger players make their way at this level.”
“I know there was unfinished business in her international career after being forced to step away from Wales a number of years ago. I am so pleased for her to have achieved the double aspiration of reaching the milestone of 50 caps and playing in a Commonwealth Games before retiring.”
“Thank you for the memories Robbo and all the best for your future plans.”
While Sophie might be retiring from the international game, she isn’t putting down her hockey stick just yet.
“At the moment, I’m going to be settling back into work and will take a bit of time away from the hockey pitch, but probably not too long as I will miss it too much. I will continue to play hockey for Beeston Hockey Club and look forward to seeing some of the girls on the opposite side of the pitch!”
“I will also continue to help coach at my club and hopefully inspire the young generation to keep developing the sport I love and that I have dedicated most of my life too.”
Felling inspired to get involved in hockey? Find out how you can get involved at https://www.hockeywales.org.uk/play