EuroHockey Championship II (Women)
The EuroHockey Championship II is the second tier continental tournament for the European based international teams. This year the women’s event will be taking place at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre between the 4th and 10th August 2019. This is going to be quite an exciting few days for both the Scottish Hockey Union and local fans and will be a nod to the national governing body as they also hosted the men’s event two years ago, at the same venue; supposedly meaning that the Scots must have done a good job the first time around. The Hockey Family will be covering every game and bringing match reports to it’s readers.
The event will include eight nations from across Europe. The teams that win the top two medals will be promoted to the top tier tournament that will take place in two years time. Those that finish in the bottom two places will be relegated to the third tier.
The opening day will see Pool A teams Italy and Wales start things off at 10.15 in the morning. The biggest game of the first day will see the host nation Scotland taking on Ukraine, who recently met in the FIH Open Series, where the Scots won 4 – 0. Finals day will see an equally great day for hockey fans, with the classification games starting at 9.30am and the final being listed currently as 4.15pm. The games themselves will be streamed by the BBC on their Website Worldwide, Red button and iPlayer. Additionally, the matches can be viewed on EuroHockey TV, as well as the Scottish Hockey YouTube channel.
Italy (FIH Ranking #17)
Italy are, on paper, the rank favourites for this tournament. They had a decent 2018 World Cup, held in London, where they finished a respectable ninth out of 16. Chiara Tiddi will be captaining her side again this summer and with 163 caps will be the most experienced international player within the team. Fellow World Cup veteran, Jasbeer Singh, who is the daughter of former Olympic bronze medal winning Indian international Inder ‘Gogi’ Singh, turns out for the nation of her Italian mother. Italy competed at the recent Open Series Finals in Valencia, winning the Bronze Medal. They also came up against fellow Pool A side Wales in the first round of that competition and beat them by four goals to one. 36 year old Maryna Vynohradova will be the oldest player amongst all of the teams. She also earned six caps for Ukraine before changing allegiances to Italy. Three other players have also swapped national teams for the Latin Europeans; Lara Oviedo (4 caps), Ivanna Pessina and Sofia Cesanelli (both 10 caps) all played for Argentina before moving across.
Scotland (FIH Ranking #19)
The host nation were relegated from the top tier of the European Championships two years ago, but have maintained their world ranking within the top twenty. As the second seed within the tournament they stand a good chance of gaining promotion back up again. Their campaign will be helped with the addition of several players, who are also participating in the Great Britain Hockey Programme; Amy Costello, Sarah Robertson and Charlotte Watson should be one’s to watch. Goalkeeper, Nicola Cochrane, who is also a part of the GB set up will be competing for the goalie position with Amy Gibson, who plies her trade overseas at German Bundesliga Champions Der Club An Der Alster. At the recent Open Series Finals at Banbridge (Northern Ireland) Scotland finished fifth out an eight team tournament, one place below lower ranked Czech Republic.
Czech Republic (FIH Ranking #21)
The third highest ranked team in the competition will be looking to play above themselves to take one of the two promotion spots to the top tier. The captain is number 11, Tereza Mejzlikova and the most experienced player is number 13, Adela Lehocova who has 91 caps. The head coach is Filip Neusser, who is the former goalkeeper of East Grinstead Hockey Club and a twice winner of the England Indoor Hockey League, even winning the Man of the Match Award for the 2014 Final at Wembley. The Czech’s actually have quite a good indoor hockey team, with a separate FIH ranking of 5th. At the 2018 Women’s Indoor World Cup they finished seventh out of 12. They also competed at the Open Series Finals at Banbridge last June and finished one place above Scotland, in fourth place, losing the Bronze Medal Match 3 – 0 to Malaysia. The Czech’s have, as of this article going to press, not named the final 18 player squad for this tournament; but have named two 16 year olds in the training group. If either of Nathalie Hajkova, or Zuzana Semradova get a game in the tournament they will have the honour of being the youngest in the championship.
Poland (FIH Ranking #24)
Another nation with a higher indoor ranking than that of their outdoor, placed at 6th. At the 2018 Women’s Indoor World Cup, the Polish team finished eighth. Let’s see if their skill set can be transferred over to the full sized version of the game. Their captain is Marlena Rybacha, who is also, with 99 international appearances, their most experienced player. Poland took part in the FIH Open Series Finals in Hiroshima, Japan. They won one match, beating Fiji 6 – 0, played out a goalless draw with Uruguay and lost two matches 0 – 5, to India and then Japan in the Cross-Over Playoff. This set up a Fifth/Sixth Playoff against Uruguay. This ended in another draw, 2 – 2, with the Poles taking fifth place winning the shootout 5 – 4.
Wales (FIH Ranking #26)
A British based rival for Scotland, playing in the other side of the draw, but could face each other in the knockout rounds. Sarah Jones, having played in the FIH Pro League with Great Britain, is their star player. The Head Coach is Kevin Johnson, who is also coaching Holcombe Hockey Club in the English Hockey League. You can listen to a feature length interview with him on The Reverse Stick Podcast #102, where he was showing his pride in his sides recent progressive developments together. Goalkeeper Rose Thomas is also noteworthy. She plays in the English Women’s Hockey League for Holcombe Hockey Club and was formerly a part of the GB programme. She also won the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award for the FIH Open Series in Valencia over the summer.
Ukraine (FIH Ranking #27)
Another Eastern European team in this tournament, were on the end of a 4 – 0 loss to, fellow Pool B competitors, Scotland during the FIH Open Series at Banbridge (Northern Ireland). They went out in the first round of that particular tournament having also lost 5 – 0 to Korea, eventually finishing seventh out of eight teams. They do have the strongest Indoor team of all of the travelling to Glasgow for this 11 a side tournament; having finished fourth at the 2018 Women’s Indoor World Cup. It could be interesting if that can be transferred over and if they learnt anything from their recent experiences in June. Within their squad are 23 year old twin sisters Natalia and Olha Honcharenko. Zoia Lebediuk has previously played 15 games for Azerbaijan, before switching allegiances to her new national team.
Austria (FIH Ranking #31)
The Austrian captain is 30 year old Corianna Zerbs, who has 88 caps for her country. The Head Coach is Christopher Faust, who, as a trainer, has previously led a side to third place in the 2015 Indoor World Cup.
Turkey (FIH Ranking #33)
The lowest ranked team in the tournament, will also be amongst the youngest participating. The oldest player in the squad is captain Leyla Ozturk, at 27 years old. There are six teenagers in this squad and ten players who are aged 21 years, or younger. The average age of the squad is 21.7 years.
The Championships will be held at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre, which was built as part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games and hosted the hockey tournament that year and even included a visit from HM Elizabeth Windsor. The male equivalent of this tournament was also played here, two years ago, where we saw a Scotland vs. Wales Final, where the Tartan Army won the Gold Medal and Alan Forsyth, of GB and Pro League fame this year, won Player of the Tournament.
The stadium itself is situated just off the River Clyde and adjoins Glasgow Green, which is a lovely and green looking park based fairly centrally in Glasgow. Bridgeton Station is the local train station. The address is:
Glasgow National Hockey Centre
8 Kings Drive