After weeks of intense training culminating in a test series win against Poland at the start of August, the Senior Women’s team are full of confidence going in to their Hockey Open Series Round 1, in Lithuania later this month. Following the accomplishments of the men’s squad earlier in the year, the women’s team will also be looking to secure qualification to one of three Hockey Series Finals hosted between April-June 2019. Competing in Lithuania and hopefully in the next round, will see Wales earn a number of coveted World ranking points, with the exact number being dependent on their finishing position in the overall competition. To see the current rankings click here.
The women’s recent success in Poland saw 5 players achieve their first International cap, proving the success of the development programme and the player pathway. The development squad have been tested recently in games against Ireland U21’s and Scotland U21’s and that preparation has been key in allowing players to transition between squads with ease. We caught up with Captain Leah Wilkinson following their recent trip to Poland, to discuss preparations for the Open Series since the Commonwealth Games.
I think it’s a really exciting time. I’ve played for the programme for perhaps 13-14 years and you always get these shifts, especially after the Commonwealths. I think for many they feel like that was their Olympic Games, and you always get players moving away from the programme and moving on to different things, and that is an evolution in our team again. I think it’s a very exciting time to be around the squad to see the youngsters come through.
Head Coach, Kevin Johnson, expressed his delight in releasing the squad for the Open Series, which showcases a wealth of experience with a fresh youthful twist:
After a rigorous training phase in the last two months which have included match series against both South Africa and Poland, we are all looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead in Lithuania. I am particularly pleased to see a number of our younger players step up with the opportunities they have had in this phase and witness how quickly they have connected with both our established player group and the principles of play we are trying to deliver.
Whilst it is fair to say it is a squad that has changed much from the Commonwealth Games, with only 9 of the 18 playing in the Gold Coast in this current selection, I am confident that we have all the tools at our disposal to deliver some very positive performances in Lithuania and continue to grow and improve as a team.
Beth Bingham (VC) – Holcombe
Emma Brierley (GK) – Colwyn Bay
Amy Burton – Swansea
Hannah Cozens – Buckingham
Cari Davies – Ardudwy
Lauren Dunn – Swansea
Izzie Howell – Neston
Xenna Hughes – East Grinstead
Caro Hulme – Beeston
Ella Jackson (GK) – Buckingham
Danni Jordan – Royal Leopold (BEL)
Eloise Laity – Buckingham
Phoebe Richards – Buckingham
Jess Roe – Beeston
Emily Rowlands – Surbition
Sarah-Jayne Thorburn – Swansea
Joanne Westwood – Holcombe
Leah Wilkinson (C) – Holcombe
The Open Series campaign starts on Tuesday 21st August in Vilnius against Turkey, where Captain, Leah Wilkinson will earn her 150th cap for Wales! Johnson explains Wilkinson continues to be an exceptional role model and record breaker for Welsh women’s hockey and her leadership in this period with a number of new faces coming in has continued to be first class.