(Photo: FIH)

Jill Boon was always destined to be an international hockey player. Her mother, Karin Coudron, was an international player, while her uncle Marc Coudron played 356 times for the Red Lions. Add sibling rivalry into the mix, courtesy of current Belgium international Tom Boon, and Jill was always going to wear a Belgium shirt. 

Recalling her childhood, Jill says that her earliest memories were of going with her mother to watch matches, and she has vivid memories of toddler Tom grasping a hockey stick when he could barely walk. Jill puts the Boon siblings' success down to the amount of extra time they spent as youngsters in the hockey environment. "We certainly had the opportunity to enjoy many hours more training than other children the same age," she says.

For Jill, her mum's experiences as a Beguim international inspired her to dream of international stardom. She recalls accompanying Karin to matches and experiencing the special atmosphere of comradeship and the emotional involvement that comes from being part of a sports team. 

She says that being part of a team is one of the biggest factors that has driven her to success: "Teamsport in general has always had a huge influence on my life. It allows common people to achieve uncommon results. But, for me the best thing about team sports is that it creates friendship for life. It's amazing to share victories with your team and it is less difficult to cope when the team is going through tough times if you have a strong team bond."

When it comes to the personal qualities associated with playing as part of a team, Jill has this message: "Not only does being part of a team help you work harder to get fit and improve skills – because of the encouragement of the others around you – but it also helps you develop personality and confidence. It instils a sense of commitment and makes you realise that you can rely and depend on others. It's not just about you anymore."