"I THINK it’s that connection everyone has. Every member of the squad is really proud and has really strong connections to Scotland and when we step on that pitch there’s a real sense of fight.”

Scotland women’s hockey captain Sarah Robertson was part of the Olympic bronze medal-winning Great Britain team in Tokyo last summer. It was an unforgettable moment in her career in which she scored a goal to send the UK onto the podium.

But when asked whether competing for Scotland felt different – something she’s done more than 100 times – she admitted it stood apart from playing for GB.

As the Team Scotland players gathered in Edinburgh ahead of their trip to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games – which kick off next week – Robertson spoke of the naturally tighter bond between the team members who have played together since their school days, and the unique sense of pride that comes with representing your home nation.

Sarah Robertson will captain the Scotland's women's hockey team at the Commonwealth Games

“I grew up in the Scottish Borders, I’ve always been a mad Scottish sports fan, so playing yourself for Scotland, and when you hear the pipes as well, it’s special,” the 28-year-old said. Robertson (above) grew up in Selkirk and now lives near Melrose.

“I’ve played a lot for GB but hearing the Scottish national anthem is a really proud moment for me.

“All my family are based in Scotland, all the girls I step out on the pitch with all pretty much grew up in Scotland, I’ve played for Scotland for under 16, 18s, 21s, with all these girls, so I think it’s that connection everyone has [compared to the GB team] that’s so great.

“Although we all live in different places now like London and across Europe, I think every member of the squad is really proud and has really strong connections to Scotland and when we step on that pitch there’s a real sense of fight.”

Defender Amy Costello (below), who grew up in Edinburgh and made her GB debut in 2018, also values the connections formed among the team over many years of playing with each other. Costello, who is now based in London, said: “Getting that opportunity to represent Scotland in a major Games is quite rare, it’s only really the Commonwealth Games where we get that chance.

Sarah Robertson will captain the Scotland's women's hockey team at the Commonwealth Games

“For every one of us it’s really special. I think there’s something about being able to pull on your home nation shirt that brings that extra pride.

“We’ve also all grown up playing together. We’ve got into the GB team from playing for Scotland. Some of the girls I’ve been playing with since I was 10.

“When we come back and play for Scotland [from London] we’re with the people we’ve grown up with and there’s a real connection there.”

Even for forward Fiona Burnet, who is in the GB squad but has not yet played a capped match, the feeling of playing for Scotland is like nothing else.

Sarah Robertson will captain the Scotland's women's hockey team at the Commonwealth GamesFrom left: Fiona Burnet, Sarah Robertson, and Amy Costello

And she told of how the team will be topping up the sense of national pride during their warm-ups with a Scottish-fuelled playlist.

Burnet, who is from Shandon near Helensburgh, said: “I think the passion of playing for Scotland is hard to replicate in a different environment.

“We’re going to take a plenty of Scotland down there with us. On our warm-up playlist we’ll make sure we have got some Gerry Cinnamon and classic Scottish tunes.

“We’ll have lots of flags to decorate our rooms too.”

And the action starts for Team Scotland on Friday, July 29, when they play South Africa in their first group match, before they go on to face Australia, Kenya and New Zealand.

The ultimate aim is for the team to get out of the group and into the semi-finals; a feat never achieved by a Scotland women’s team before.

It might seem a tough ask, but Robertson insists it’s within their grasp.

“Our goal is to cause a bit of an upset and make a semi,” she said.

“I hope we can go there and do something special.”