The senior women are travelling into Europe this weekend to take part in a 3 match test series against Poland as they start their final preparations for the upcoming Hockey Open series tournament in Lithuania later in the month. After a short break post Commonwealth Games, the senior group have been training since the end of June in what has been a challenging time due to at least a third of the squad being unavailable for selection in this phase for a variety of reasons. As a result of this, the squad has a fresh and youthful feel about it, with a number of players now getting the opportunity to stake their claim at senior level as well as some younger players who are set to make their debuts at senior international level over the course of the Poland trip. Head Coach Kevin Johnson had this to say about preparations…
It has been a challenging time for both staff and players as we transitioned out of the Commonwealth Games buzz and into the next phase of our programme. Losing a number of players for different reasons in this phase has meant that we have lost about 650 caps worth of experience from the group which of course is going to be felt pretty hard and is difficult to replace but this has also meant that a number of young players and a few on the fringes of the team have been able to show what they can offer and I have seen some very positive signs across this training phase that a number of these players are desperate to take their opportunity to play senior Hockey. There is a really fresh feel to the group and the senior players that are still around have been very helpful and supportive to those less experienced which is great to witness and I’m sure the bonds will grow as we hit competition time. In my role I am always very proud to be able to select players for their first caps and therefore the start of their senior international journey and there will be potentially 5 new caps in this series against Poland. I am also pleased to be able to reward with selection those that haven’t been in a selected squad for all while but have continued to commit well to the programme and make improvements over time.
The 5 new debut caps that Kevin Johnson mentioned are the following players…
Johnson goes on to say:
We are working hard across our development pathway to join up our processes to ensure players transition well from junior to senior international Hockey and these first caps are another reminder of how important this is to future Welsh senior success. Amy Burton has returned to our programme after some time away and performed well across the last club season for Swansea Spartans and in our recent U23 series so has earned this opportunity through that process as have Morgann, Jess, Lauren and Cari who have also been in both our U23 and National Age Group squads in recent years which again is a testament to the work going on across Welsh Hockey. In fact Cari Davies has recently been away with the U18 team at the European Championships so has made her transition rapidly.
So after this weekend attention will turn to the Hockey Open series tournament in Lithuania where Wales will be hoping for a top 3 finish in a 5 team tournament also involving Czech Republic, Ukraine, Lithuania and Turkey which will allow them to take a place in the next round in 2019.
Leah Wilkinson (Captain)
Beth Bingham (Vice-Captain)