Darwen’s Abbie Culshaw has spoken of her "pride" at representing Great Britain’s ice hockey team for the upcoming Ice Hockey Women's World Championships.

Abbie, 24, who is presently training to become an Orthopaedic Plaster Technician, has also told of how she kept up her gruelling training during the lockdowns and balanced her work commitments through the pandemic.

Abbie said: “It’s an honour to be picked it’s a great feeling knowing that all that hard work and commitment has paid off, especially after not being able to play during the Covid pandemic with the tournament being cancelled for the past two years.

“I love to represent my country and it gives the team a chance to play against elite players from other countries.”

Abbie first took an interest in the sport when she was 11, when she went to watch the Blackburn Hawks with her dad Anthony.

“I took an instant liking to the fast paced challenging game," she said.

"I was already playing county cricket for Lancashire and football at a good level, but ice hockey really captured my imagination and I instantly fell in love with the sport.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

She was picked for the Under 18s Team GB team when she was just 13 and competed against players up to five years older than her.

In 2018, she went on to secure a silver medal with GB at the Ice Hockey World Championships.

The forward, who pays for Whitley Bay Beacons and Bradford Bulldogs, said: “The commitment it takes to reach the highest levels is vast and tough.

"Being only 5ft tall and playing against men who are physically stronger and naturally quicker means I have to push myself harder.

“But you have to learn to adapt in order to compete and have to make up for it in other areas, skill, awareness and determination.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

During the pandemic Abbie worked at Royal Blackburn Hospital and kept up her training regime.

She said, “It was a very stressful and emotional period of time being in the midst of it all.

"It was difficult for me, especially when playing hockey is a major stress relief; it made it all that much harder. 

“As the ice rinks were closed for long periods this meant I could not train and or play any competitive games.

“I went running a lot and did lots of home workouts. I also have a hockey net in my back garden so I continued to work on my shooting and skills.

“When it was nicer weather I would go out on my roller skates in a quiet car park to practice. I was also invited to train with Blackburn Hawks in a secure bubble which helped.

“Sometimes it can be very hard to manage my work life and sporting career.

“There is a lot of theory related learning which can be difficult to revise when working full time hours, as well as training at late times during the week and travelling all over the country at the weekend.

“However, my department and the whole of ELHT are very supportive and accommodating which makes it a whole lot easier.”

She is now hoping to inspire others to take up the sport.

Abbie added: “Ice hockey is an amazing sport to play I would encourage everyone to give it a go or at least watch a game.

“It’s very addictive to watch and even more fun to play. Blackburn have a junior set up and I would advise getting in contact and if you don’t try it, you will never know.”

Team GB begin their World Championship campaign on April 3 in Division II Group A against Chinese Taipei on Sunday, April 3, before facing Spain on April 5, Mexico on April 7, and Latvia on April 8, with all matches taking place in Jaca, Spain.