Georgina Oliva was always destined to be a hockey player. Her father and brother both represented Spain and the whole family spent their weekends at the hockey club. Oliva made her international debut in 2006 at the 2006 Women’s World Cup in Madrid. With 235 international caps to her name, she has been a stalwart for the Red Sticks ever since.
There is also every sign that Oliva is getting even better with age and experience. She has been an inspirational captain since 2018, when she led Spain to a bronze medal at the 2018 Vitality Hockey World Cup. At the FIH Series Finals in Valencia, she was voted Player of the Tournament as Spain sealed qualification for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020; and then at the 2019 Belfius EuroHockey Championships she was voted Player of the Tournament as Spain took a bronze medal at the expense of England.
In this continuation of our series of profile interviews featuring some of the world’s finest players, the Spanish superstar speaks to FIH about her career to date, her personal highlights, how her 14 years of international experience has made her a slower but wiser player and how the Spanish squad is staying competitive throughout the Covid-19 lockdown.
Who or what first influenced you to pick up a stick and play hockey?
Georgina Oliva: It was definitely my father. My father (Jordi) played for Spain for many years and when I was four, five and six my older brother (Roc) and older sister were already playing, so I don’t think I chose it. I don’t regret it, it is one of my passions.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Georgina Oliva: The biggest influence in my hockey career has been my family. Even though they haven’t been at every match and every tournament they always support me – especially my parents. It [the hockey club] is a really good environment in which to grow up so I have to thank them.
If there was one sentence to sum up your playing style or attitude on the pitch, what would it be?
Georgina Oliva: I would say: “Keep it simple”. And in defence be aggressive. “Keep it simple” because the ball has to keep moving, so if you have a pass, then make it; if not, then go into space and make another option. And in defence, like I said, “be aggressive”.
What moment on the pitch are you most proud of and why?
Georgina Oliva: I would say when we have achieved all the goals we have trained for and when we have achieved all the processes we talked about before the match, then you really feel happy and proud of your team.
It has been four years since Rio 2016, how have you changed as a player in that time?
Georgina Oliva: I am pretty sure that because I am older now, I run slower. So I run less metres during a match than before. So I know when I can go and when I can’t. I have a better range of passing options now so I can choose the option that can cause more pain to the other team. Finally, I think I play are vertical (in an upright position) than before. But apart from that, I don’t think I have changed much.
The Covid-19 situation has obviously impinged on everyone's preparations but what are some examples of activities that you and the squad have used to keep a sense of 'team' throughout the lock-down period?
Georgina Oliva: Throughout the lockdown period, since day one, we started to have a lot of activities, to help us keep in touch with each other. One of the funniest activities is called the Taskmaster and we have a task or challenge every two or three days. Everyone gets points and everyone tries to be on the top. It is competitive but we have a laugh with it. We have activities like imitate a famous painting, we have to initiate Olympic sports and we also share our meals online. I think our nutritionist is really happy because we are doing a great job. We also do some workouts, some are really heavy but in others we dance the salsa. That side of things is really nice.
What part of returning to playing after this enforced break are you most looking forward to?
Georgina Oliva: The first thing is the competition, I am looking forward to playing a match. Then I am looking forward to seeing my team mates - both the national team and from the club. We spend a lot of hours together and we have known each other for a long time. We always talk about things and help each other. I have a lot of friends and I am missing those times when we are training and preparing for competitions. And the harder we train, the funnier it is, so I miss those moment.
Profile*: Georgina Oliva - Spain
Shirt number: 23
International appearances: 235
Place of birth: Terrassa, Spain
Current National Hockey League team: Atletic Terrassa
*Information correct as of 11 May 2020Back