Danson excited by England's Hockey World League challenge
PUBLISHED: 09:00 09 July 2017
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Women's team ready for action in South Africa
England captain Alex Danson is relishing the squad’s first major tournament of a new four-year cycle and to climb the first rung of the ladder on their journey towards next summer’s Hockey World Cup in London.
The team are in South Africa for the Hockey World League semi-finals where a top-three finish would see them qualify for November’s showpiece World League final in New Zealand.
Danson, who has been named England captain for this summer’s major tournaments, will lead the side as they face Germany, Poland, Ireland and Japan in Pool A in Johannesburg and is excited by the new squad and challenges ahead.
Danson said: “Obviously, it’s a new cycle, a new team, with new memories to make and South Africa is our first opportunity in a tournament situation and it’s a great platform.
“We are lucky we have already qualified for the World Cup next year, the EuroHockey Championships come in August and you want to qualify for the World League finals, so there are lots of challenges ahead of us but I’m very excited.”
Danson believes the squad has a lot of powerful qualities, adding: “Our strengths are our youth and speed that brings real energy to our game, I spend a lot of time in training trying to chase after them!
“I think we have a fantastically solid defence but a lot of pace in our midfield and forwards so we are consolidated, but my goodness we’ll be quick and out on the break when we get the ball so I think that is there to look forward to in Johannesburg.”
With a blend of youth and experience in the squad of 18, including 10 gold medalists from Great Britain’s Rio 2016 triumph, Danson believes the chance is there for all players to learn and develop.
“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for players who have played tournaments before to learn to be in a new team and obviously players who haven’t played before will get such a wealth of knowledge playing against these teams,” she added.
“Needing a top-three finish to qualify is a good pressure for us to play under. This is definitely the first rung of our ladder, we’ve got lots of work to do and lessons to learn there will be good ones and tough ones but they will put us in a good place for the World Cup next year.”
Fixtures, England v Poland (July 10, 3pm UK Time); England v Japan (July 12, 3pm UK Time); England v Germany (July 14, 5pm UK Time); England v Ireland (July 16, 1pm UK Time).