Our Senior Women put themselves in good stead this weekend with a 2-1 series win over France on home turf ahead of their upcoming FIH Series Finals and summer Europeans.
Wales hosted France this past weekend for a home test series following an away series against France back in February which saw Wales on the other side of the series scoreline, but managed to get on the right side of it at home.
This was a significant event in Hockey Wales’ calendar with so many milestones being hit this weekend, including Phoebe Richards, Jo Westwood and Sian French all joining the 100 club by achieving their 100th cap across Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In addition to these achievements, Saturday saw Leah Wilkinson, Wales’ captain, become not only Wales Hockey’s Most Capped player, but also Wales’ Most Capped Sportsperson. Leah surpassed Paul Edwards’ record of 157 caps as she hit 158 in Game 2 of this weekend, and was presented with her record cap by Paul Edwards himself and Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford.
Reflecting on this weekend, Kevin Johnson, Wales Head Coach said:
Our first goal beyond anything else for the France weekend was to win the series so I’m firstly pleased that we achieved this and the players delivered under this pressure. We are obviously disappointed with our performance in the final game but will learn from this and I’m sure it will give us the necessary desire to keep improving all our processes.
On a more human experience level, we were all blown away by the support we had over the whole weekend, from people coming to watch, the support of friends and family in attendance, our wonderful young mascots, past players, our sponsors for the series USW, coverage provided by S4C, tireless work throughout from our own Hockey Wales colleagues, the list goes on and on and we would like to thank everyone involved with this and making it such a special weekend for us in terms of the whole experience and atmosphere. This atmosphere created was a fitting backdrop to the extraordinary achievement of Leah Wilkinson gaining the record for caps across Welsh sport and of course our 3 new members of the 100 club: Phoebe Richards, Jo Westwood and Sian French, whilst also celebrating and commemorating the brilliant International career of the retiring Tina Evans. At the other end of the spectrum of experience we were all delighted to see both Caro Hulme and Izzy Webb score their first senior International goals which contributed to our wins in match 1 and 2.
This weekend was an important part of both our selection and preparation for the forthcoming Open Series finals in Valencia and we now look forward to finalising our plans for this tournament with another training camp this coming weekend before we depart for Spain the weekend after.
A huge thank you to S4C for broadcasting this fantastic weekend of action, University of South Wales for being our event sponsors, Mark Drakeford for presenting Leah’s record cap and all of our Official Match Mascots who brought fantastic support this weekend.
Johnson’s squad announcement for the FIH Series Finals in Valencia will be released this week ahead of the squad travelling out to compete on 19th June 2019.