EuroHockey Indoor Nations Trophy and Challenge

After experiencing tricky travelling conditions as they left for Europe this week, the England men’s and women’s indoor squads have arrived in Poland and France respectively for their EuroHockey Indoor Nations competitions.  The men finally arrived in Poznan after being held up in the snowy delays at Heathrow airport while the women also had to contend with the weather as they travelled by coach to Rouen.
For the men, the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Trophy – the second tier of the indoor European competition – offers the chance to not only seal a second consecutive indoor promotion and qualify to play in the Championship division in two years time but it is also a great chance to qualify for the Indoor World Cup for the first time.

To do that, the team will have to finish first of the eight teams or, in the case of Poland winning the competition, second will do as Poland have already qualified for the 2011 Indoor World Cup as hosts.  The World Cup will take place next February in Poznan.

Two years ago England were promoted from the third tier, the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Challenge, at the first time of asking after finishing as runners up to Sweden in Sheffield.  This year, with the likes of World Hockey Young Player of the Year Ashley Jackson and experienced outdoor international players Richard Mantell, Glenn Kirkham, Richard Alexander and Jonty Clarke supplementing the indoor talents of Adam Harper and Simon Egerton to name just two England are in with a good chance of making the grade.

Despite the talents at his disposal and the admission from coach Andy Halliday that England’s aim is promotion the squad will have to work hard if they are to achieve their ambitions: “The improvement of many of the Eastern European and Scandinavian teams has made the European tournaments far more competitive,” says Halliday.  “Many of these countries go indoors in November and play solidly through to February.  The strength and improvement of the Swedes, Slovakians and Belarusians are indicative of this and we know that there will be no easy opposition in the Trophy competition.  The addition of more traditionally accomplished teams, Poland, Switzerland and Scotland leave us in no doubt that we have a real challenge ahead of us.”

England’s women are also looking for promotion from their EuroHockey Indoor Nations Challenge pool in Rouen.  The Challenge is the third tier of the women’s European indoor competition and as such there is no World Cup spot for England to challenge for, however, Nick Clark’s squad will be determined to succeed where they narrowly missed out two years ago in Sheffield.  On that occasion, after beating Sweden, Turkey and Denmark in the round robin stage of the competition, England came unstuck against Denmark in the final as they went down 3-2 and missed out on promotion.

In preparation for this weekend, England has recently played against Denmark again, beating the Danes 7-4, as well as winning three of five matches against Scotland in December.  Those results have pleased Clark who has rightly pointed out that Denmark and Scotland compete in higher divisions.  While his side has the ability to beat opponents Croatia, Turkey, Wales, Sweden and France, the coach points out the benefit that home advantage can bring a team and the unknown quantity that many of the other sides are.  “It will not be straight forward,” he says, “particularly playing France in their home venue.  We know very little about some of our opponents but we do know that no game will be easy.”

Among the most experienced players in the group are defensive pair Sally Walton and Ashleigh Ball while the Leicester pairing of Kerry Williams and Chloe Rogers will be crucial to England’s plans of sealing promotion.  Rogers missed the four match test series in Paisley before Christmas while away with Great Britain but Williams netted twice over that weekend.  Prior to the series in Scotland, Rogers was inspirational against the Scots in Birmingham at the beginning of December, scoring in a 3-1 English victory.  19 year old Georgie Twigg is the youngest member of the squad and only made her international indoor debut in December against Scotland. 

Keeping up with England’s European progress

European Hockey Federation
All the results from the men’s EuroHockey Indoor Nations Trophy and the women’s EuroHockey Indoor Nations Challenge will be available from the European Hockey Federation website at www.eurohockey.org 

Official Tournament Websites
The official men’s EuroHockey Indoor Nations Trophy tournament website will have all the latest results, match sheets and photos from Poznan.  Visit it at http://hme.pzht.pl 

The official website for the women’s EuroHockey Indoor Nations Challenge can be found at www.hockey-rouen.org.
 
England Hockey Website
As ever, you can follow our international teams and their tournament progress via the International section of www.englandhockey.co.uk.  Just click here for the fixtures and results or select the ‘International’ tab in the left hand navigation on the homepage.