August 10th, 2011
The England Hockey women’s squad has been announced for the forthcoming EuroHockey Nations Championships in Monchengladbach.
Included in the 18 athlete squad is Canterbury’s Susannah Townsend. The 22 year old joined the senior squad’s centralised training programme in January having previously played in the England Hockey National Age Group Squads. She was a member of the Under 21 women’s squad that claimed a best ever fourth place finish at the 2009 Junior World Cup in Boston. With two senior international appearances to her name, the EuroHockey Nations Championships will be the midfielder’s first senior international tournament.
Speaking about Townsend’s selection, England Head Coach Danny Kerry said, “Susannah has earned her first call up for a major tournament following her selection into the senior squad in the New Year. Through good performances for Canterbury in the England Hockey League she was invited for assessment with the senior squad in 2010 and she took that opportunity with both hands. She is riding a steep learning curve and this tournament will give her opportunity to get valuable experience of a senior tournament environment. She brings great penetrative ball carrying to the squad.”
England’s squad also contains its most experienced athletes with 2010 FIH World All Stars Crista Cullen, Beth Storry and Helen Richardson selected. Richardson recently surpassed 200 appearances for England and Great Britain combined at the Champions Trophy in Amsterdam while her Reading clubmate Alex Danson made her 150th international appearance in the same match, against Korea. Captain Kate Walsh (pictured below, far right) will arrive in Monchengladbach for her sixth European Championships, having played at the tournaments in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009.
In total, 13 of the squad that won bronze medals at the 2009 EuroHockey Nations Championships are selected. Leicester trio Cullen, Maddie Hinch and Anne Panter, Clifton’s Georgie Twigg and Canterbury’s Townsend are the five athletes that were not part of the squad two years ago. Townsend’s Canterbury teammate Natalie Seymour returns after missing the Champions Trophy in June.
Speaking about his side’s preparation for the EuroHockey Nations Championships, Kerry said, “The group has had a focused period of three weeks training following a recovery period after the Champions Trophy. I believe the group feels confident they have, even in this small period, moved forwards. The focus is now on our final preparations and our first match against Belgium.”
The EuroHockey Nations Championships represents the last time that England will play in this four year Olympic cycle. Following its conclusion, the home nations of England, Scotland and Wales will compete together as Great Britain. While Great Britain’s participation at London 2012 is guaranteed, the EuroHockey Nations Championships carry Olympic qualification places and Kerry believes this will be good for England’s players. He said, “The nations we will compete against are all looking for an Olympic qualification spot and as such every match will have an added fervour to them. I am looking forward to that environment as we continue to assess players’ ability to deliver come London 2012. The English players know that competition for places in the Great Britain London 2012 squad is intense and that good performances at the Europeans will help their cause.”
The nine day tournament runs from 20-28 August with England drawn in Pool B alongside Belgium, Ireland and hosts Germany, who won silver in 2009. All of England’s pool matches will be shown live by the BBC on its red button and the BBC Sport website.
Pool A contains Azerbaijan, Spain, Italy and reigning European Champions, the Netherlands. England’s tournament gets underway on the opening day, Saturday 20 August, against Belgium, before facing Germany and Ireland.
England Hockey Women's Squad for EuroHockey Nations Championships
Kate Walsh (c)
England Hockey Board Media release