With the preparations nearly complete the start of the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) is looming large for Great Britain’s youth (U21) hockey teams in Sydney.
On Wednesday, the GB Youth women begin the defence of the gold medals they won in 2007 as they take on India at the Hockey Centre in the Sydney Olympic Park.
They have undertaken a demanding training schedule ahead of the AYOF including domestic training sessions, a training camp in Spain and two weeks’ preparation camp in Sydney.
The squad have also played a series of training fixtures against New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS) and Australian U21. On Wednesday 7 January, the women beat NSWIS 2-0 thanks to goals from Leicester’s Katie Long and Canterbury’s Jenny Hall before overcoming Australia U21 by 4-2; Sophie Robinson, Sophie Bray (2) and Nicola White the goal scorers on that occasion. On Sunday, in their final warm-up game, Long and Hall were again on target as GB came from behind to draw 2-2 with Australia U21.
Having won two and drawn one of their warm-up matches the women have adjusted well to the conditions, which at some times have meant playing in temperatures well over 30 degrees centigrade. Head Coach Craig Parnham is looking forward to the tournament beginning: “The three warm up games have provided us with a good opportunity to adjust to the conditions and time zone. The players have all come through unscathed and have produced, at times, some strong performances. India in the first game is a bit of an unknown and will challenge us. It will be a new style of play [to cope with], which will be a good experience for the team.”
As well as the athletes, Great Britain Hockey is represented by two young umpires who will officiate at the 2009 AYOF. Both Hannah Sanders and Paul Walker have risen through the ranks of England Hockey’s National Young Umpire Promising List while Paul was the 2007 Young Umpire of the Year.
The purpose of the AYOF is to provide future Olympic athletes with an environment reminiscent of an Olympic Games and to promote the Olympic ideals of friendship, solidarity and fair play. Of Great Britain Hockey’s 2007 youth team Laura Bartlett and Charlotte Craddock all went on to compete at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Great Britain Youth’s Pool fixtures at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival are as follows.
Please note that local time in Sydney is 11 hours ahead of GMT.
Wednesday 14 January
1100 (local), 0000 (GMT) – Great Britain (W) v India
Thursday 15 January
1300 (local), 0200 (GMT) – USA v Great Britain (W)
1500 (local), 0400 (GMT) – India v Great Britain (W)
Saturday 17 January
1100 (local), 0000 (GMT) – Australia v Great Britain (W)
Sunday 18 January - Classification Matches
0800 (local), 2100 (Sat) GMT - Women’s Bronze Medal Match
1300 (local), 0200 (GMT) – Women’s Gold Medal Match
Great Britain Youth Women’s Squad for 2009 AYOF
Name (Home Nation & Club)
Laura Bartlett (Scotland & Milne Craig Western)
Sophie Bray (England & University of Birmingham)
Susie Gilbert (England & University of Birmingham)
Takara Haines (England & Trojans)
Jenny Hall (England & Canterbury)
Maddie Hinch (England & Loughborough University)
Katie Long (England & Leicester)
Dilly Newton (England & Clifton)
Sarah Page (England & University of Birmingham)
Harriet Pearce (England & Clifton)
Lauren Turner (England & Leicester)
Georgie Twigg (England & Clifton)
Laura Unsworth (England & Loughborough University)
Becky Ward (Scotland & Dundee Wanderers)
Hollie Webb (England & Cannock)
Nicky White (England & Loughborough University)
Sophie Robinson (Wales & Leicester)
Amy Gibson (Scotland & GHK)
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images