England Head Coach Danny Kerry has named the 18 athlete squad who will compete in the Women’s Champions Trophy in Argentina at the end of the month. The tournament is being hosted in Mendoza and runs from Saturday 29 November until Sunday 7 December.
England are in Pool B and will face Australia, Germany and hosts Argentina in the preliminary stages, while Pool A consists of New Zealand, Japan, Netherlands and China.
Kerry has made a number of changes to the Commonwealth Games squad which claimed a silver medal in August. After a solid two-month training block in the lead up to the Champions Trophy, there are debut tournament call ups for Slough’s Shona McCallin and Clifton’s Joie Leigh. Surbiton lead the way in terms of club selection with four of the squad coming from the Sugden Road club.
It has been an excellent season so far for Clifton’s Joie Leigh who has impressed for her club side, helping them to third in the Investec Women’s Premier Division and scoring seven goals in the process. Leigh has five England caps to date after making her debut in February 2013, but this will be her first senior international tournament.
Slough’s Shona McCallin is also enjoying a fine season at club level. Her side are currently top of the Investec Conference West with an unbeaten record. She has previously captained England U21s to fourth place at the Junior World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany, in 2013 and lived in Holland for three and a half years playing for MOP. She will make her England debut if she plays at the Champions Trophy.
Surbiton’s Sarah Haycroft earns a re-call to the squad for the first major tournament since the FIH World League Semi-Final in 2013. London 2012 bronze medallist and St Albans Player-Coach Hannah Macleod also returns to the squad after missing out on Glasgow.
England and Great Britain Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh has taken time away from the programme since finishing with a Silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. After being away from the centralised programme and not training full-time she was not in consideration for the Champions Trophy squad. With Richardson-Walsh absent from the side, the captain’s responsibilities will fall to the senior leadership group within the squad.
After competing in Glasgow Holcombe’s Nicola White and Lucy Wood have not been named in Kerry’s squad.
Squad members Helen Richardson-Walsh and Ashleigh Ball both have long term injuries. Richardson-Walsh continues to recover from back surgery and Ball from a knee operation she had following the World Cup. Both athletes are working through rehabilitation programmes at Bisham Abbey.
Quotes – England Head Coach Danny Kerry.
On the squad selected: “The group we have chosen reflects those who have pushed their case hard during the training block since September. As a result we’ve given some opportunities to a number of players who are relatively inexperienced at this level. The block of training since September has been really focused and has produced excellent commitment from each one of the athletes. We have pushed the group exceptionally hard during this time and they have responded well to that environment.”
On England’s aims for the competition: “As a group we will look to generate a number of outcomes from the tournament not just in trying to be extremely competitive but also in gathering some much needed information ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers.”
On competition for places: “Joie Leigh, Shona McCallin and Sarah Haycroft are all relatively inexperienced at this level but a good 3 months’ training from them has been rewarded with selection for this prestigious event. Their inclusion allows us to grow the depth in the group and means there is more competition for places in the squad. We have left a number of highly experienced medallists behind, which is a testament to the pool of talent we are beginning to generate.”
On England’s rivals for a medal: “Netherlands are hot favourites, with Australia and Argentina likely medal contenders, too. The beauty of the Champions Trophy is that all the teams competing are capable of beating each other on their day. That means consistency of performance becomes crucial for us.”
Pool B opponents
Kerry’s team face a difficult opening test as they come up against world number two side Australia. The Hockeyroos are the current Commonwealth Games champions after defeating England on shootout in Glasgow and are also World Cup silver-medallists.
Germany, who England beat 3-1 at the World Cup in The Hague come into the tournament ranked 7th-one place below Danny Kerry’s side.
Argentina are England’s final Pool B opponents. The hosts won the last Champions Trophy back in 2012 when a Silvina D’Elia goal was enough to edge out Great Britain in the final, 1-0. Roared on by a fervent home support, Las Leonas will be looking for inspiration from eight-time FIH World Player of the Year Luciana Aymar who holds the record for appearances in the competition and will be competing in her 15th Champions Trophy.
England’s first game is against Commonwealth Games champions Australia on Saturday 29 November at 19.30 [UK time].
All matches from the Champions Trophy are being shown live on Sky Sports.
Champions Trophy: the tournament – Source: FIH
The front runners
The Netherlands and Australia both hold six Champions Trophy titles apiece, defending champions Argentina winning five times and Germany, China and Korea all winning once. England will be hoping to emulate the same performance as Great Britain after Danny Kerry’s side took home a silver medal from the last edition of the Champions Trophy back in 2012.
Mendoza, Argentina – the hosts
The opening day of the tournament (Saturday 29 November) will feature all eight teams taking to the field in the Estadio Mendocino de Hockey. The stadium seats 5,000 spectators and was built initially to host the 2013 Women’s Pan American Cup. The new stadium was greeted with great enthusiasm by hockey fans in Argentina, who were already thinking ahead then to the 2014 Champions Trophy.
Qualification for this year’s edition was as follows:
Argentina qualified as defending champions and hosts; Great Britain were runners up in the 2012 edition, enabling England to qualify this time; the Netherlands, Germany and Japan qualify by virtue of their placings in the same tournament, third, fourth and fifth respectively; and Australia were winners of the 2012 Champions Challenge 1. In addition New Zealand and China were given invitational places.
The future of the Champions Trophy
From 2016, the qualification criteria as set out by FIH will be slightly modified to accommodate the Hockey World League results. Qualifying teams will comprise: the host, the 2012 Olympic Champions, the 2014 World Cup winners, 2015 World League champions, the winners of the 2014 Champions Challenge and a team nominated by FIH Executive Board. If any team qualifies twice under the criteria, then FIH Executive Board will invite a further team. The format of the competition will also revert to a six team round robin followed by classification matches.
2014 Women’s Champions Trophy – Squad
Name – Club –Hometown
Giselle Ansley – Surbiton – Kingsbridge
Sophie Bray – East Grinstead – Surrey
Alex Danson – Reading – Odiham
Susie Gilbert – Reading – Lichfield
Sarah Haycroft – Surbiton – Esher
Maddie Hinch – Holcombe – West Chiltington
Joie Leigh – Clifton – Huddersfield
Kirsty Mackay – East Grinstead – Blackpool
Hannah Macleod – St Albans – Huntingdon
Shona McCallin – Slough – Newark
Lily Owsley – University of Birmingham – Bristol
Sam Quek – Holcombe – Wirral
Zoe Shipperley – Buckingham – Marsh Gibbon
Susannah Townsend – Canterbury – Egerton
Georgie Twigg – Surbiton – Lincoln
Laura Unsworth – Holcombe – Sutton Coldfield
Ellie Watton – St Albans – Oakham
Hollie Webb – Surbiton – Belper
For all the details of the Champions Trophy, including the full schedule visit the tournament website.
You can see Danny Kerry’s England side live next August. They will be in action on home soil when Eurohockey 2015 comes to London’s Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. England will face Germany, Scotland and Italy in the pool stage. For all the details of the competition and how to get tickets, click here.