In the months after the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, four of Team Scotland’s hockey stars have announced their retirement from international duty.

Chris Nelson of the Senior Men’s team, plus Senior Women stalwarts Cat Ralph, Ali Bell and Ailsa Wyllie will step down from their international commitments.

Nelson, a long-standing member of Scottish champions Bromac Kelburne, will hang up his boots after ten years of playing for Scotland to focus on inspiring the next generation of players at the club.

“Playing for Scotland means we have to fund ourselves and take holidays from work for tournaments. So it is a big commitment and I have been really lucky that my work have supported me through my international career, giving me extra holidays. It is a lot of time you spend in training, so it has to come to end at some point.

“Over the last four to five years I have had a few injuries; I had shin splints which were really quite bad after Delhi, meaning I had to take a year out of the sport including lots of rehab. A year ago I injured my left hammy twice. It never felt quite right so I was just glad to get through the summer.

“We have a lot of kids coming through at Kelburne, with many who have got ambitions to play for Scotland. It is nice to know I can be a role model to them. Hopefully from the exposure hockey had in the Commonwealth Gamed plus seeing us at training and playing to Scotland it will inspire the next generation.

Meanwhile, Senior Women vice-captain Ralph, whose career included playing in Amsterdam for two years with some of the best hockey players in the world, regards Glasgow 2014 as the zenith of a long international career,

“I wanted to finish on a high, Glasgow was always going to be a pinnacle for any Scottish athlete. Finishing at Glasgow Green in front of a 5000 crowd was amazing, we didn’t finish the way we hoped and it is still taking me a while to get over that loss against England.

“A Commonwealth Games is always massive and I suppose more recently the Europeans have become special, as any A division we had competed in before, we always got relegated. But that summer competing in Boon was amazing. We competed and stayed up, we played so well and had so many other top countries turn an eye and really make an impact which was really positive.”

Indeed the defender, who has completely stepped back from all hockey since the games states she has enjoyed her free time a lot more than she expected.

“I am enjoying having a break, I actually surprised myself that I wanted to take a complete break. If you asked me a few years ago I definitely would have said I would still play club hockey. However, I am just enjoying spending time with family and friends and my free weekends. I’ve joined the gym and attending classes six times a week and I trained for the recent Glasgow half marathon.”

Grove Menzieshill player Ali Bell, who recently got married has also decided to step back from international hockey,

“It has been a really difficult decision to make but I think the time is right.  I feel proud and lucky to have been involved in such an amazing and successful squad, and it is going to be strange not being part of it all.  I have a lot of great memories from my time within the squad and I will definitely miss the banter!”

Club team mate Ailsa Wyllie has also stepped back from international and club hockey and the Sportscotland partnership manager focusing on inspiring the next generation of sporting heroes and heroines, while Edinburgh University player-coach Sam Judge, who won a massive 199 caps for Scotland has also retired.

Source and photographs: Scottish Hockey