NOT many sports awards nominees have captained their country, but this was one of many milestones for Rowena Hearn in 2017, writes JAMES ROBERTS.

The Oxford Hawks Hockey Club player led England U16s against Ulster U17s last summer at Lilleshall and was not overawed by the occasion.

She said: “It was a really special moment, especially leading the team onto the pitch and motivating them to keep on going.

“My parents came along and my aunt and uncle were there to watch.

“It was definitely the proudest moment of my career.”

This came during a fruitful summer for Hearn, who featured in England U16’s three-match series internationals against the Netherlands and Germany.

The teenager then represented her country in July’s Six Nations tournament in Barcelona, helping them to fourth place.

And Hearn sees England’s 4-3 win over hosts Spain as her pick of the last 12 months.

She said: “My personal highlight was playing against Spain.

“It was a home game for them, so it was quite a big crowd and the atmosphere was really good.

“They scored one then we scored one, so it was quite intense.

“But the crowd really pumped us up and made us want to win even more.”

Hearn attends Headington School, where sportswoman of the year nominee and golfer Cara Gainer is a former student.

The 16-year-old is grateful for the encouragement she receives from the PE department, forming part of a vital support network.

She said: “I have so much support from my school, my club and also my parents – it would be really nice for them if I won.

“I help coach on Sunday mornings at Oxford Hawks as I like to put something back.”