The stage is set as the finest players Europe has to offer descend on London to compete in the Unibet EuroHockey Championships, at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The top eight men’s and top eight women’s teams will take to the field from 21-30 August to see who is crowned the best team in Europe, with reigning men’s champions Germany aiming to add to their record haul of eight titles and their female counterparts also hoping to defend the title they won in 2013. It promises to be a spectacular festival of hockey.
The tournament will be the biggest standalone hockey event the country has ever hosted. The BBC will be televising the matches for England, Ireland and Scotland live on the Red Button and online via the BBC Sport website. Tournament information can be found on the event website – www.eurohockey2015.co.uk Tickets are still available, but one England session has sold out and others are close to sell-out, including both Finals.
Germany have won the most European titles in the men’s competition, scooping the first of their eight titles in the inaugural event in 1971. Their last title was the 2013 competition where they defeated hosts Belgium in the final. The reigning champions have fond memories of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; it was here they picked up an Olympic gold medal in 2012.
Germany Captain Tobias Hauke: “It’s always special to come to a tournament as defending champions; we are hoping to win it for a third time in a row. We have Belgium first up which will be tough but we are looking forward to it. It’s really fantastic to come back to Olympic Park. We did well last time we were here, so we hope to repeat that success again.”
In the women’s competition it is the Netherlands who have won the most titles, taking home the gold on eight occasions. They had to settle for bronze in 2013, however as they were defeated by England in the semi finals. England then went on to lose the final to Germany on shootout after an entertaining 4-4 draw in normal time.
Janne Muller-Wieland, Germany: “We are excited to have the chance to defend the title. The team has changed quite a lot but we will try to progress and hopefully we will be successful. We have lost some players to injury but we are confident. Sometimes that sort of adversity can make you stronger which we hope is the case.”
Both England sides will come into the tournament with high hopes. After securing qualification for the Rio Olympics as Great Britain just months ago, Danny Kerry’s team now turn their attention to a tournament in front of a home crowd. The England women suffered heartbreak last time out, finishing second to the Germans after a dramatic shootout. However, with the side in good form and with the home crowd behind them, they will hope to go one better and pick up the gold.
Kate Richardson-Walsh, England Captain: “Everyone is feeling really positive and excited to be able to come here and play in front of a home crowd. It’s not often that happens and I think it will be brilliant. European hockey is so strong. The tournament will be of a really high standard, I think it’s just a case of consistency and who can put it on the line when it matters.”
Fixtures for all the women’s games can be seen here.
England’s men finished in the place no one wants to finish in the 2013 tournament, with the Netherlands’ Jeroen Hertzberger netting a hat-trick and condemning them to fourth place. With the likes of Ashley Jackson, Barry Middleton and Iain Lewers in scintillating form, they will be aiming to get on the podium just like they did in 2009 when they won the gold medal.
Barry Middleton, England Captain: “I’m really excited for the whole tournament – seeing the stadium as it is and with a big crowd behind us it will be great. The Euros are always fun and we just want to get out there and show everyone how good we are. This is one of the hardest competitions to win. There are a lot of great teams out there and it’s going to be tough for everyone.”
The European Hockey Federation President Marijke Fleuren commented: “The EuroHockey Championships is an extremely prestigious event and we know that here in London we will showcase hockey to the World as a compelling sport with respect as a strong value. Hockey is big, bold packed and loud and we expect that to be reflected here in this wonderful venue! Good luck to all involved.”
Andy Tapley, Chair of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships Organising Committee, said: “Like any sports fan, I’m incredibly excited at the prospect of watching the skill, speed and drama of the best hockey players in the world battling to be crowned European champions. I’d like to thank all our sponsors and event partners for their continued support. Throughout our planning process we have kept the experience of athletes, officials and spectators at the heart of everything we have done to ensure your experience is the best it can possibly be.”
England Hockey have also announced that for the upcoming Championships, the men’s team will display the Hockey for Heroes logo on their shirts. The men’s team, led by Barry Middleton, will be playing five matches at the event starting with a pool match against Russia at 7.30pm tomorrow.
Hockey for Heroes is the brain-child of two hockey players and ex-servicemen, Carl Woods and Gary Ryder. The group aims to raise money for the Help for Heroes charity, which was founded in 2007 to provide direct, practical support for wounded, injured and sick servicemen, women, veterans and their loved ones. The Hockey for Heroes team raise funds through a mixture of exceptional physical exertion and hockey events.
Hockey for Heroes Founder Gary Ryder told England Hockey: “To see where Hockey for Heroes has gone, from four years ago being an idea between a few friends to today, when the England team will compete with our logo on their shirts it is absolutely incredible. It’s great to have England Hockey’s support and it just doesn’t get any bigger than having you own national team behind you.”
Hockey for Heroes’ fundraising goes from strength to strength. In their latest challenge, in 2015, during only 10 days, between Thursday 21st May & Saturday 30th May 2015, the Hockey for Heroes Invitational Squad comprising 26 players from 20 different hockey clubs undertook 33 Games of Hockey and the 3 Peaks Challenge (Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis & Snowdon).
The tournament is to be held at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The unique £30 million venue has two of the best hockey pitches in the country as well as four indoor and six outdoor tennis courts and hosts a range of community, club and elite events. As the new home of English Hockey, the Unibet EuroHockey Championships is the first of a number of major events England Hockey will host at the venue with the Women’s Champions Trophy Event in 2016, the Men’s World League Semi-Final in 2017 and the Women’s Hockey World Cup in 2018.
About the Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015
|Venue||Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre|
|Location||Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park|
|Competition Dates||Friday 21 to Sunday 30 August 2015|
|Pre-event Training Period||Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 August 2015|
|Gender||Women and Men|
|No. of Teams per Tournament||8|
|No. of Athletes||16 teams x 18 = 288|
|No. of Team Staff||16 teams x circa 8 = 128|
|Teams Qualified – Men||GER, BEL, NED, ENG, ESP, IRE, RUS, FRA|
|Teams Qualified – Women||GER, ENG, NED, BEL, ESP, SCO, ITA, POL|
A full tournament match schedule and ticketing information is available at www.eurohockey2015.co.uk.