The Silent Sufferings of a Hockey Hero

The constant fear of injury in sport can engulf you like a wave if you let it, but the adrenaline rush that I experience when playing completely erases this fear - for the better or worse. During my time playing hockey, I have encountered various players receiving numerous injuries, including myself: a hockey ball to the face knocked me to the ground as the impact had created a plethora of shock waves that rippled and numbed the surface of my upper cheek bone, leaving me slightly concussed and scarred. I consider myself lucky: one inch lower and my cheek bone would have broken – one inch higher and I would have been left blind. Another example of a player who’s suffered the same is GB player Alex Danson.

It was not quite October, the start of the scintillating season in the search for glory, and the old coaches of GB women’s hockey were either keeping the grass tendered or preparing match training, or sitting in the sun talking amongst themselves, watching the players come and go, and worried, now, as they’d noticed player Alex Danson showing symptoms of a concussion.

At 33 years old, Danson was a most distinguished hockey player, aging as gracefully as she had played on the field – 115 goals in 306 appearances is no easy feat. The medical team had met Danson for a short discussion, hoping to delve deeply into the cause of her lapsed memory and concentration. She had largely struggled with this. The memory of her head accident is still very painful to her, and yet, despite not keeping it to herself, she, like many athletes, wishes to move on as quickly as possible to get back on the pitch.

“it's been the hardest experience I have ever been though. When I came out of hospital a walk to the bathroom was near impossible and the very most I could do. I was in bed for 24 hours a day for weeks on end. I couldn't tolerate light, sound or people talking to me. My memory, concentration and ability to read or look at screens was zero.”

The coaches remember how, before her accident in 2018, Danson and the rest of the team was boding well - Gold in the 2016 Olympics, and worthy results in FIH Pro League -, and one game Danson was seen crying emphatically after a wonderful hat trick to finish off New Zealand in the 2016 Hockey Championship. All of this was stripped away. And left in “hospital with a suspected bleed, being violently sick and having seizures.”

Danson now spends most of her time recovering and is determined to get back on the pitch, leaving a message in the hopes that it will help at least one person: “just maybe this will help one other person support someone going through the same ordeal. I think in doing this, it will help me.” If you are suffering from the same ordeal you can get help from, Tel: 0800 800 2244.

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