With their EuroHockey Championships title defence off to a winning start, England’s Women face a quick turnaround as they play their second match of the tournament against Germany tomorrow.
The two sides know each other inside out, clashing on multiple occasions over the years including the 2017 Hockey World League in South Africa a little over a month ago, a match that England won 1-0.
“Germany are a tough side to play against. It’ll be a difficult game and they are as good as they get. We’re pleased to get on the board today but we’ll debrief and move onto that next game. It’s a quick turnaround but we’re looking forward to it.” said David Ralph, the England Coach.
Ralph is standing in for Danny Kerry for this tournament whilst Kerry recovers from a heart attack. Whilst a somewhat unorthodox set of circumstances, Ralph insists it has had little effect on the focus of the squad.
“We have an exceptional group of players with a lot of experience. They know what to do and they manage the processes well.” He adds: “The staff we have are great too. A lot of my role is made easy by what’s around me. They get on with it and I’m just here to make sure we’re as well prepared as we can be and the team are comfortable with how we want to play. They make my life far easier than I make theirs, to be honest.”
With Ralph in charge the looming match with his native Scotland inevitably crops up. However he bats that one away with the skill of a man who has been in the hot seat for years:
“Scotland is not on our mind now. We’re focused on Germany. Then we’ll look at the game after that. Now, I’m focused on the job at hand.”
He allows himself a wry smile when I press him on the topic, however:
“My family disowned me years ago, so nothing to worry about there. I’m sure my phone will fill up at some point but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before. As I say, though, I’m focused on the next match and that is Germany.”
Perhaps some added spice for tomorrow’s match comes in the form of Surbiton coach Brett Garrard’s position as one of the assistant coaches for Germany. Giselle Ansley, who plays for Garrard’s Surbiton at club level is not fazed by his involvement with their rivals:
“To be honest every match and training session is filmed these days. Footage is all passed all around the place so what Brett tells them is nothing they won’t already know. We’ll know about them too, so we’re not worried!”
Ansley is more focused on building the momentum as her and her team aim to defend the title they won in 2015:
“They say you have to make winning a habit and we try to do that. We try to build momentum and tomorrow is no different to any other game. It’ll be a tough test and they had a good win today. We will recover this evening, debrief this game with tomorrow in mind and try to do what we did today.”
England vs Germany is set for 16:45 tomorrow, after England’s men play at 8am UK time against Poland. Both matches are live on BT Sport.