• England Hockey Leagues

Wimbledon And Buckingham Begin European Indoor Campaigns

Wimbledon and Buckingham are relishing their role as underdogs as they prepare to make their debuts at the upcoming EuroHockey Indoor Club Cup.

Wimbledon’s men will make history as they step out in Vienna as the first side from the club to represent England in an indoor competition.

Having won the 2022 and 2023 Super 6s, they have been unable to compete in the event over the past two years due to circumstances beyond their control.

But captain Ed Horley is excited to finally get started as they look to cement their status as an international indoor hockey club.

"We're really excited as it's a privilege to represent England in the Indoor European format and this is the first time in the club's history," he said.

"Wimbledon Indoor have been on an incredible journey in the past 12 years, so to cap it off with winning the league back-to-back and to represent England in European is something we'll look forward to.

"We're also using it as a big team bonding trip, so I think it will be really fun."

Wimbledon are in a pool with German favourites Harvestehuder alongside clubs from Turkey, Croatia and Poland.

And despite their ambitions to keep England in the league, head coach Karl Stagno noted that his team are slightly on the back foot due to their usual focus on the outdoor game.

"We'll be measuring ourselves against the frustrations of not being able to fully prepare but that doesn't move away from the excitement of the league," said Stagno.

"Going to play and learn as a team is really good experience and Austria will be the place to be so we're really excited to see what comes of being there."

Buckingham women begin their EuroHockey indoor campaign on February 22 in Alanya, Turkey, boosted by an inspiring fundraising stint.

Co-captain Lottie Porter helped set up a GoFundMe page after the team qualified for the tournament in September 2023 and was taken aback by the response.

"The hockey community have been absolutely amazing," she said.

"We set a £10,000 target, we hit it and it's still going up. We are hugely grateful to everyone that has donated.

"We're under no illusions, it's going to be a really tough week for us.

"We've got the German side [Dusseldorfer] and the Belgian side [Royal Racing Club Bruxelles], who I think will have much more of an indoor season than we do in England so we'll relish being underdogs.

"We don't want to be like one hit wonders. We want to go again and we want indoor hockey to get more recognition by what we're doing."

Head coach Kevin Mayles is eager to see how Buckingham's participation in the tournament can help propel indoor hockey to new heights back home.

"Our goal is also to think about how this tournament can help benefit our community in the North Buckinghamshire area," he said.

"We're geographically in an area that traditionally does not play a lot of indoor hockey, so we hope to help grow the sport here."