(Photo: © FIH / Stanislas Brochier)

The Great Britain women’s hockey team will take on the 2008 Olympic silver medalists China in two matches at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre in Buckinghamshire on 14 and 16 April 2010.


The matches will provide a stern test for the Great Britain side and are the first official tests played by hosts since the squad returned from a five match series against Argentina in Salta in December 2009.


Head Coach Danny Kerry has a near full squad to pick from, with final team selections being made prior to each match.  The absentees will be Great Britain’s Scottish players, Abi Walker, Emily Maguire and Laura Bartlett, who will leave the squad after playing an unofficial practice match against China early in the week as they join up with their Scotland teammates ahead of the BDO World Cup qualifying tournament in Santiago, Chile starting on 24 April.


China and Great Britain last met in Virginia Beach, USA, in October 2003 when the British side won 4-1, their third victory over the Chinese in four meetings.  While GB have not met China since, both England and Scotland have, including at the 2006 World Cup Qualifier in Rome and, England’s case, at the 2007 Champions Challenge and last year’s Champions Trophy in Sydney. 


China, ranked four places higher than Great Britain at third in the world, have finished fourth and second at the two most recent Olympic Games (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008), twice been Champions Trophy silver medalists in 2003 and 2006 after winning on home turf in 2002 and won bronze at the tournament.  In 2009 they beat India to clinch the Women’s Asia Cup in Bangkok.


Speaking ahead of the series, Great Britain Head Coach Danny Kerry said, “It’s very important for us to play sides like China who bring a different way of playing and different challenges.  They have retained a large number of their silver medal winning team and have a number of world-class players.  In Gao, Barong & Song they have some of the best counter-attacking players in the world and they play to that strength.  In Yibo and Zhou they have two very impressive central defenders whose attributes complement each other.


“At the same time, despite our relative youth, we know our group is making significant strides and we look forward to the matches.  The matches will prove very interesting on many levels and will continue to assist us in growing competition for the final 16 athletes who line up in London in 2012.”


China is one of the six national teams competing at this summer’s Samsung Women’s Champions Trophy right here in the UK.  Joining the hosts England and the Chinese will be the European, World and Olympic Champions the Netherlands, 2009 Champions Trophy winners Argentina, Germany and New Zealand. 


Tickets for the world level international hockey tournament, being held at Highfields Sports Club in Nottingham from 10-18 July 2010, are on public sale now from www.wct2010.com/tickets.  Day tickets start at just £7.50.


Hockey fans will also be able to catch a first glimpse of the Great Britain men’s team in action ahead of the London 2012 Olympics as they take on Olympic Champions Germany, Japan and New Zealand in a four nation tournament, which will run throughout the duration of the Women’s Champions Trophy. 


Team Great Britain: Ashleigh Ball, Laura Bartlett*, Charlotte Craddock, Crista Cullen, Alex Danson, Gemma Darrington, Jo Ellis, Susie Gilbert, Rebecca Herbert, Gemma Ible, Katy Long, Kirsty Mackay, Hannah Macleod, Emily Maguire*, Sam Quek, Helen Richardson, Chloe Rogers, Natalie Seymour, Beth Storry, Chloe Strong, Sarah Thomas, Georgie Twigg, Laura Unsworth, Abigail Walker*, Rachel Walker, Kate Walsh, Sally Walton, Nicola White, Kerry Williams. (*will leave the squad to join Scotland ahead of BDO World Cup Qualifier).


Source: Great Britain Hockey ltd.