Danny Kerry: One game at a time

Danny Kerry gives his team talk

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a happy hunting ground for Danny Kerry. The England Women’s Head Coach was in charge when Great Britain captured the Olympic bronze here in 2012 and now he’s back to the legacy venue to lead his England team in the Unibet EuroHockey Championships.

A veteran of around ten years in the England hot seat, Kerry has seen it all before, but his reaction to the surroundings at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre is one of excitement:

“I’ve been doing this job for a long time now and we’ve gone from playing in civic venues with temporary stands to having our own venue, permanant stands, a video screen, two wonderful pitches and the transformation is amazing. I’m really looking forward to playing in front of a full stadium. We tend to play our best in front of a big crowd so with home fans behind us it should be really exciting. What’s not to the look forward to?”

With a partisan home crowd expected, there may be a suggestion that players could become overawed. Kerry however is adamant that would not be the case:

“I don’t believe they’ll be overawed. We try to play a brand of hockey that doesn’t allow you to feel overwhelmed by what’s going on outside the pitch. We play with high intensity and tempo, so international hockey doesn’t leave you much time to think about the crowd. You have to get on and your job.”

Kerry’s side come into the competition off the back of a successful World League campaign, where their attacking flair was married with defensively solidity. The latter is something Kerry and his squad have put a lot of time and effort into:

“One of the main areas of work over the last year has been getting the team to realise how alert they have to be to what’s happening around them. They had to learn to problem solve on the pitch and defend in a way to close the opposition’s options whilst allowing us to counterattack and cause teams problems. We only conceded two goals at the World League in Spain and it’s testament to how hard they have worked and how they’ve embraced the understanding of how to defend as a team.”

The European Championships are considered as one of the hardest tournaments to win, with some of the top sides around battling it out for glory. Kerry cites the Netherlands as “red hot favourites” but also concedes as many as seven teams could make the semi-finals. The Coach refused to be drawn on England’s chances, however saying, with a wry smile:

“The number one thing is to make sure we’re really diligent about taking it one game at a time and although it’s the biggest cliché there is, that’s what we’ll do.”

One game at a time starts with Scotland tonight at 18:15 live on the BBC Red Button and the BBC Sport website.