Next summer top hockey teams from across Europe will descend on Cardiff for Women’s EuroHockey Championship Division II, following the announcement today by the European Hockey Federation (EHF) that Hockey Wales will host the event in 2017.
Hockey Wales CEO David Phenis said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be awarded such a prestigious international event. The tournament is not only fantastic news for our national women’s team and hockey fans, but also for Cardiff. It provides the opportunity to watch yet more world-class sporting action, and we are excited to be welcoming our European guests to this wonderful city.”
Hockey Wales last hosted a EuroHockey tournament in 2009 and for Dan Clements, Hockey Wales Head of Performance, the return of this major sporting event will be invaluable for hockey in Wales, as well as providing as excellent showcase of elite-level women’s sport:
“We are delighted to be hosting such a high-status event here in Wales in what promises to be a fantastic year of major sporting events in Cardiff. Hosting, and participating in major events is crucial to the promotion of our game to inspire the next generation. Furthermore, to have such a high profile female sporting event coming to Wales shows great strides in the profile and recognition of women’s sport and we are excited about the platform this will provide.”
The announcement comes at an exciting time for the Welsh women’s team with the recent appointment of Kevin Johnson as the new head coach. Johnson’s wealth of experience, which includes roles with England and GB Hockey, will be instrumental in the team’s on-going development and preparation for next summer’s tournament.
The tournament will see eight European teams, including Wales contesting to be crowned champions and earn promotion to the Championship. These teams include Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, France, Italy, Poland, and Russia. Wales International and Athlete Ambassador for Hockey Wales Natasha Marke-Jones said:
“You don’t get many chances to play international hockey on home turf, it is going to make it a very special EuroHockey Championships for all the team. European’s is the height of the competitive calendar next season and so there is lots at stake for us as a team, which will make it a really exciting spectacle. Putting on the shirt and singing the anthem alongside a passionate home crowd will be phenomenal!”
The EuroHockey Championships are a biannual tournament and at the last competition in France, Wales overcame a number of higher ranked teams to finish in a highly respectable 5th place, an impressive feat having only been promoted to that league in 2013.
Participating nations for 2017 qualified from their ranking in the 2015 competition and pools for next summer will be announcement later this year.