Watsonians and Clydesdale Western head for Alanya on EuroHockey duty

Watsonians and Clydesdale Western head for Alanya (Turkey) this weekend on EuroHockey business with the idea of promotion to the second tier Trophy competition.

The Trophy can hopefully allow the Scots to start acquiring crucial EuroHockey League ranking points, eventually leading to entry to the elite women`s EHL.

Fortunately Watsonians and Clydesdale Western are drawn in different pools, so both sides have the chance of reaching the Trophy level.

But they approach the tournament from different perspectives. Watsonians come from the back of a very successful domestic season winning the Premiership, the Scottish Cup and the European play-offs – but this is their European baptism. In contrast, Clydesdale finished fourth in the Premiership but the club has a wealth of European experience behind them.

Watsonians make their debut against Irish side Catholic Institute on Friday, then AHTC Wien from Austria the following day and finally Czech Republic`s SK Slavia Prague. A top two place in the pool would ensure a semi-final spot on Monday and the chance for promotion. That will be the Edinburgh side`s target.

Watsonians are certainly well equipped for the challenge, they have undoubtedly been Scotland`s most successful women`s club winning the treble and only losing one game in the process. Now they must transfer that domestic win ethic to Europe.

We caught up with Watsonians coach Keith Smith and asked him how well prepared his squad was to take on Europe.

“The team is really looking forward to the tournament, despite the international experience in the squad, only a handful of them have played club Euros before, so both the format of the tournament – four games in four days – and facing new opponents, presents us with a fresh challenge.

“The players have trained and played really well all season, but the last few weeks of the campaign in particular have featured some pretty tough games, so hopefully that will also have helped us prepare both physically and mentally too.”

Keith did not set himself any specific targets for Alanya, but said: “As first timers our approach is to go and learn from the experience so that we can be stronger at home and abroad next year – we have a tough pool, but we want to be competitive and give a good account of ourselves, and fly the flag for Scotland.”

Keith then confirmed that he has almost a full squad for Alanya but missing will be Ellie Wilson who is still out with a foot injury, and Ellie Stott who is ill.

But between Lucy Camlin who is adept at keeping the ball out of the goal and Sarah Jamieson who has been lethal at putting the ball into the goal this season, there is a wealth of talent in the Watsonians line-up, so the Edinburgh side look well equipped to take on Europe with confidence.

Clydesdale finished fourth in the Premiership and went through a change of coach in mid-season from Derek Forsyth to Wendy Justice, and it is the latter who takes them to Alanya.

The Titwood-based club have a testing pool programme against Argentia (Italy), Gaziantep Polisgucu (Turkey) and finally Siauliai Gintstrekte (Lithuania), and again have to finish in the top two to progress towards promotion.

And there is no shortage of talent and experience in the ranks, including Scotland players Bronwyn Shields, Fran Lonergan and Millie Steiger.

Asked about their chances in Alanya, Wendy said: “We acknowledge that we are presently in a rebuilding stage, following the loss of five key players from last year`s squad. We however have a good blend of experience across our playing lines, which include three present day internationalists, and which should provide us with the on-field leadership strength to accomplish our squad goal, which is to retain tier two competition status.”

But the lack of information about the pool opposition brings an unknown factor into the equation. “We have no experience or knowledge of any of our opponents, so will be looking to glean as much as possible on the first day,” Wendy remarked.

Good luck to both Watsonians and Clydesdale Western in Alanya


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