HOLDING a hockey stick in her hand is a transformative experience for Charlotte Watson. Without it, the notion of running any kind of distance has never held any huge appeal. With a stick in her grasp, however, it is a different story as numerous GB and Scotland appearances can testify. As long as she is chasing a ball, running is not too much of a hardship.

Not everyone shares the same athletic endeavour or prowess that Watson enjoyed as a child. The Dundonian was back in her hometown recently, joining 800 kids in Baxter Park to help The Daily Mile mark its 10th anniversary.

The brainchild of a Stirling headteacher, more than three million children around the world are now running, jogging, wheeling or walking for 15 minutes every day in school, ensuring that even those who are not naturally inclined to take part in sport are still getting exercise.

“When we were younger we would just run mad around the playground but it’s good there’s now something more formal in place for those kids who might not do exercise otherwise,” says Watson.

“I never had that issue but maybe for the younger ones who don’t enjoy it as much, their parents and teachers know they’re staying healthy and getting to run or cycle or walk every day while they’re at school.

“To be honest, I probably ran more when I was younger than I do now! I’m not a massive fan unless there’s a stick involved and I’ve a ball at my feet.

“It was always hockey for me growing up. I don’t think I tried any other sport which is probably unheard of. I started when I was five and I’m now 24 so I’ve stuck at it for quite a while now.”

Watson’s commitment to her passion has paid off. She is part of the Scottish and Welsh contingent in the GB set-up currently left cooling their heels following the decision for the squad to play as England this year – “that was interesting ”, she says diplomatically – but it has given her the opportunity to travel home more regularly to train with the Scotland squad ahead of a busy summer.

The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham is the undoubted highlight but the EuroHockey Championship qualifiers just after will be just as, if not, more important as Scotland look to book their place back among the leading European nations.

“It’s a very Home Nations year as the GB team have gone away to play as England ahead of the World Cup and the Commies,” she says. “But we’ve got loads of Scotland stuff coming up and I always enjoy being able to get back to train with the girls as usually we don’t get to do that too often.

“But from now on I’ll be able to make all the sessions ahead of what’s going to be a summer. The Commy Games is the big one and the fact that it’s in Birmingham means we should be able to get loads more friends and family down to watch us.

“I absolutely loved playing on Gold Coast so hopefully it will be even better this time. That’s the highlight but arguably the European qualifier is actually more important for us. That gets us in the A division if we do well and that’s where we want to be.”

The delayed Tokyo Olympics came around too soon for Watson but Paris in 2024 is already in her sights as her long-term target.

“I’m definitely aiming for that one,” she says. “Obviously it was disappointing to miss out on the last one but Paris is in my thoughts for the next couple of years. Getting to be a part of the Olympics is going to be my primary focus. Hopefully I can make the squad.”

Watson is in her closing months at Loughborough University, putting the final touches on a Finance and Accountancy degree she started at Dundee University what feels like a lifetime ago. While glad to have the qualification behind her, the former Holcombe forward hopes to remain in hockey for as long as her body will let her rather than move into the business world.

“I’m just about to finish my final year so I’ve got quite a lot of uni work to do,” she says, not sounding hugely enthused by the prospect. “This is technically my sixth year so I’m very, very much done with it. It’s just been too long so I’m glad that I’m nearly done. It’s been a trek too far.

“I don’t see myself becoming an accountant any time soon. I’m not looking for a part-time job to fit around training or anything like that. I’d be quite happy just to play hockey for the next 10 years or so then worry about it then.”