The Great Britain Elite Development Programme (EDP) was launched in October 2017 with a strategic objective to accelerate the development of future medal winning Olympians during the Tokyo 2020 cycle.
Despite being fresh off the ground, the programme has already seen plenty of success with numerous players progressing to the senior men’s and women’s teams and impressing at major competitions.
Lizzie Neal and Jack Waller have been a shining light of the programme’s work, putting in some superb performances for the senior sides since making the step up and they gave their thoughts on the EDP.
Jack Waller broke into the senior squad from the EDP for the Toshiba Anniversary Games in October 2018 and hasn’t missed an international match since, featuring at both the Men’s World Cup and FIH Pro League, then being named in the men’s new leadership group.
It’s been a meteoric rise for the 22-year-old who praised the EDP programme for having such a positive impact on his game:
“The EDP taught me a monumental amount. There were amazing coaches teaching me new skills and fundamentals which have really helped me progress into the seniors and get my first caps.
“It made me well-rounded, previously I probably focussed on the ball, the EDP taught me a defensive discipline which I previously didn’t have and has helped me get more senior caps.
When I talk about being more well-rounded, it’s being taught things like physical conditioning and nutrition, which is really important to develop as a senior athlete, and it’s something that I potentially wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been in the EDP.”
20-year-old Lizzie Neal made her senior international debut in the first FIH Pro League match against New Zealand, going on to feature in all three of GB’s opening games.
Having scored her first international goal in the 2-2 draw with China, Neal reflected on the positive effects the EDP has had on her progression to the senior squad:
“The EDP programme was really helpful in providing a platform for moving into the senior squad. Training-wise, it’s got a very similar structure to what the seniors are doing, having that in the EDP environment was helpful in providing a smoother transition because it wasn’t all new when you move to the seniors.
“It was really helpful having Revs (Paul Revington) coming in as a new coach. It was a different experience for all the EDP girls and was a big transition period for me and Tess (Howard) with our hockey because he brought such fresh ideas to the programme.
I don’t think my hockey would have changed so much in such a short period of time without the EDP and having Revs there.
“It provides such a good platform for young players coming through at bridging the gap to the senior squad, hopefully there will be a lot more players like me, Tess and the Holly’s (Hunt and Munro) who come through in the next few years.”