Interview with Alicia Tan (Captain of UWON winners UCL)

Interviewer/Editor: Harry Mason

Let’s start with introductions. What’s your name, and who are you?

Hi, I'm Alicia Tan, people usually call me Ali on the field, and I was captain of the UCL women's team this year!

Let’s get straight into it. How did it feel to win Nationals? What have you done with your medal?

It feels amazing, and still very surreal, I need to look at the medal sometimes to remind myself that it happened! It's currently still sitting on my desk, it was good motivation through the exam period and is definitely something that will remind me of what I've learnt this year!

Alicia Tan (purple bandana, top) celebrates with her UCL teammates

Who were your standout players this season? What did they bring to your team that you found so valuable?

I would hesitate to label a few players because I honestly feel that all of them were crucial and made our team what it was - if I may, small shoutouts to all of them? Alix Henry and Nina Brown for their incredible handling in the notts wind, they really made a difference πŸ˜€. Thed Jia Yi, Chua Yu Wei and Emma Oh for tirelessly giving us cuts, I'm so thankful for their determination to run down every disc! and of course my incredible freshers (Jessie, Yanwen, Juliet and Val) who’ve put so much effort this year, they’ve improved so much and played so well, i’m honestly so proud and happy! πŸ˜€

Did you have a coach this season? If so, did you find it useful? If not, was it a conscious choice?

Nope we didn't- we lost our coach the year before and definitely would have wanted a coach. Our committee is currently looking for a coach, so perhaps a shoutout for anyone who would like to coach a really fun uni team? πŸ˜‰

If you don’t mind me saying, you guys were a real surprise package at nationals this year. I think it was the first time we were able to see you on the nationals stage this season (UCL came 8th at UWIR, 7th at UXIR and didn’t enter UXON). How do you prepare your team mentally for this situation?

To be honest, I think we really surprised ourselves as well! But that's the lovely thing about it, I think everyone that played during the weekend went away from it with a newfound excitement of the potential of the team. We were actually really grateful that we were able to field a team for nationals, there were many drop outs and we’ve suffered a couple of injuries this year. But going into a tournament, I mostly tell the girls to just give their best and to play for each other, and I really want them to have fun doing so. I also believe that it's during tournaments like these where you’ll surprise yourself and do somethIng amazing you didn't expect!

My aim this year was to build a team that would genuinely want to train and play together because of the friendships formed here, and I hope that In the years to come, the team will really feel like a family because that's what will make players want to give their all on the field.

Do you think your region was the toughest? The East region saw four different teams win medals (Chichester, Gold, UWIN; KCL, Silver, UWIN; UCL, Gold, UWON; Oxford, Silver, UWON), and you notably saw off Oxford in the final of Nationals, after they had beaten you at regionals.

It's difficult to say, because I feel that the crazy wind that weekend made it quite an even playing field for all the teams.  However I do agree that strong teams have come out from the east region this year, I was looking forward to seeing Chichester and Kings outdoors, but it was a pity they couldn’t make it! Birmingham was a tough team to beat in the semifinal, and I think the midlands have strong teams that we unfortunately didn't get to play against. Oxford has always been a really strong team and their offense is lovely, it’s so fun playing against them because it's always a challenge!

What teams/matches did you particularly enjoy this year?

I think all the teams gave us different challenges, we enjoyed playing against Strathclyde and Sussex, and Oxford once again gave us a great game!

What is your relationship with the Men’s team at UCL? Do you train together, support each other, socialise together, etc….

I’d say that we have a pretty good relationship, we train and socialize together, and I definitely look to maintain good relationships with the men’s captains. They’re a really fun bunch πŸ™‚. I think that we’ve supported each other more this year compared to the past years; for example, I try to be there for all their BUCS matches on Wednesdays, and some of the men had come all the way down to support us for regionals! I’ve had great advice given to me by the men, and i’m really thankful for their presence and their friendship.

Do you have any strong club connections at UCL? Do many of your team train with clubs outside of the University?

UCL does run combined trainings with Camden on Sundays, and we have quite a few members playing for Thundering Herd, which is probably our strongest club connection. Not many of our women train with clubs, there are only 3 of us so far. I do want to encourage more of the women to find and play with a women’s team as I think it’ll be hugely beneficial.

Any advice you’d like to give to anyone just starting out as a uni captain this year?

Hm I think I'd say, just get to know your team really well and invest in them personally. I'm not sure about how easy it is to get freshers interested and pull them into the sport, it was really difficult for UCL to attract many women this year but for the ones that stuck around, I watched them during training to give them individual tips of how to improve, and I hope that helped! Also socials definitely help, and just hanging out with the team after trainings.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just wanted to once again express how grateful I am to the girls, I can't thank God enough for such an amazing team and I hope that this win will motivate us to train harder next year because there’s always something to improve on and I believe we can push ourselves even further! I also want to thank everyone who we played against through the weekend, and i hope that we’ll be back at nationals next year to have more great games πŸ™‚  

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