Great Britain head coach Danny Kerry has paid tribute to ‘legend’ Ollie Willars after the defender announced he would be stepping away from international hockey with immediate effect.
After a period of reflection, Willars has decided to leave the international game and set up his own business.
The 30-year-old made his debut at the Champions Trophy in 2012 has made 138 international appearances since then. He has won eight medals, including two bronzes at both the EuroHockey Championships and Commonwealth Games.
“Ollie is a legend.” said Kerry. “He’s the squad member that everyone respects, trusts and wants to succeed. Why is that? Because he did everything in his power to be the best he could be, whilst also doing everything in his power to support his mates. As I say; a legend.”
The Beeston defender was part of the squad that defeated Malaysia in 2019 to secure Olympic qualification and he also scored in the final against Australia as Great Britain won the 2017 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
“It got to a natural point where Danny and I had a conversation and I really respect him for that.” said Willars.
“With Covid and everything that’s going on, the team haven’t had as many games as they’d like and it’s best for them to focus on those that Danny wants to take with him to Tokyo. Unfortunately I didn’t fall into that category. It’s sad but at the end of the day I want the team to do the best they can do and I can look back on the last eight years with a lot of happiness and a lot of proud moments.” he added.
Willars will play his club hockey next season in the Hoodfklasse for Dutch side HGC, where he will play alongside Alan Forsyth and Zach Wallace. He will also focus on his new business – Give & Go – providing a personalised mentoring and coaching experience to help aspiring young hockey players.
“There’s a tinge of sadness to leave. I’ve made a lot of good friends over the years and worked with some great coaches. So there’s that but actually I also feel a real excitement about what’s next and moving onto the next chapter. I do feel some sadness but there’s also a lot of happiness and fond memories of everything I’ve experienced throughout my career.”
The Top of the D would like to wish Ollie the best of luck with his new venture!