Chloe Brown is thoroughly enjoying her first season in the English Premiership and, if all goes to plan, she hopes to extend her stay, having moved from Ards to East Grinstead over the summer, writes John Flack.
The 24-year-old Irish international was renowned for her goal-scoring ability in both the indoor and outdoor game in her seven years with the Ulster side.
She scored more than 50 times for Ards in seven European indoor tournaments and topped the charts in the three years she played with the club in the EY Irish Hockey League.However, she is enjoying a new role with East Grinstead where she is playing as a football-style wing-back, joining the attack whenever possible.
Brown said: “I’m loving life at East Grinstead and it’s everything I ever imagined plus more. The past 11 weeks have been amazing, not just for my hockey development but my professional development at the school where I am teaching PE.”
“The standard of the league is good and I believe that it’s higher than the IHL with far more teams fighting for the league positions.
“The game is far more intense and this is the best bit for me as it will develop me as a hockey player.
“We have two-hour training sessions twice a week and we are expected to do our own running programme outside of that so we don’t have to spend time during training working on our fitness.
“East Grinstead have many internationals from all around the world including Great Britain, Wales, Malaysia, Argentina and New Zealand so it’s a league of nations you could say.”
Among the star-studded line-up, Brown is playing alongside two players who won gold with GB at the Rio Olympics in the shape of Laura Unsworth and Sophie Bray.
The Sussex club are currently occupying a play-off spot in the Premier League and lost for the first time this season on Saturday.
They went down 1-0 to Bowdon-Hightown in Liverpool but recovered to beat Canterbury 5-0 at home on Sunday. With her new role Brown, who has been capped 53 times by Ireland, has had more pitch time than she would have had as a striker.
“I have played all the games so far and have had almost 70 minutes in each of them and the plan is to return to the club next season although nothing has been confirmed yet.”
“I’m also looking forward to the indoor hockey season over here and playing with new teammates and under a different coach should hopefully make me a more versatile player.”
“The outdoor season finishes on the 24th of November. We then move into indoor training and our first weekend of games is on December 15-16. The second weekend is January 4-5 and then hopefully we qualify for the Super Sixes (finals) at the end of January.
“I’m really looking forward to a new challenge. I’ve had a very successful indoor career with Ards including winning the all Irelands and playing in Europe for the past seven years. It will be a different experience playing for East Grinstead but one I cannot wait for.”
The English club’s gain has certainly been Ards’ loss as Brown’s former club have been struggling without her in their EYHL campaign.