International Masters hockey continues to go from strength to strength across the world. England Hockey run squads at several age groups. The women field teams from Over 35 to Over 65 and the men from Over 35 to Over 80. England squads compete in all major competitions including the Home Nations, European Cup and World Cup tournaments.
Three of our women’s Masters were in action at this month’s Home Nations tournament in Nottingham, two picking up international caps, with two of our men’s section also having been selected to represent their country.
Captain of the 2021/22 history making Ladies 1’s side, Charlie Leonard, picked up her first international cap as she took to the pitch in England’s 5-0 win against Wales on the opening day of the 045’s tournament. Further wins over the weekend against Scotland (4-2) and Ireland (4-1) saw England complete a clean sweep and take home the 4 Nations title.
Speaking of her selection and what inspired her to trial for England Masters:
“The last few seasons have been a bit of a whirlwind, captaining the Ladies 1’s to two successive promotions and achieving our goal of getting into National League. Just before Covid hit, I’d been selected for the East of England Masters, and inspired by Pippa Bull, decided to trial for the England side.
I went to the trials with zero expectations, just hoping to gain some experience and was surprised but absolutely delighted to be selected for the National squad. I felt so emotional but so proud to line up this weekend in the England kit before each game.
A very close friend of mine who had terminal cancer encouraged me just to try as life is too short and I took her advice. Sadly she didn’tt make it to hear my selection news or see my debut but she is the reason I had the confidence to trial,
I hope it teaches my kids for the future not to let doubts hold you back and just go for it!”
Club legend Pippa Bull, no stranger to the international game having played for England age group sides for over ten years, was part of the winning England 060’s team. Pippa was on the scoresheet in the first two games as England recorded dominant wins against Wales (7-0 ) and Ireland (6-0). England ended the weekend with a 4-0 win over Scotland to take the title in style, scoring 17 goals and conceding none.
“It was great this year in the O60s age group to have all 4 countries represented with Ireland fielding a team for the first time. All games were highly competitive and played in the true spirit of Masters hockey. Having secured the Home Nations title we are now looking forward to retaining the World Cup title in Cape Town in October”
England LX O65’s
Kim Durbin, a member of the title winning Ladies Acolytes was competing for England LX. Both England LX Ladies and Midlands 060’s were asked to play in place of Ireland and Wales as these two Nations didn’t have enough O65’s to field teams. This is the first year that Masters Hockey have included the O65 category. England LX finished third, picking up a 1-1 draw against Scotland, with losses to England and a Midlands O60’s.
Kim, who returned to the game in 2016 after a 13 year break said: “It was a wonderful experience playing with and against players of such high quality and wealth of experience. It’s never too late to learn!!”
All three will be representing their respective age group teams at the Masters World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa this October, with England O60’s looking to retain the title they won in 2018.
Men’s international selections
Also heading to the World Cup this summer, though in the not so glamorous location of Nottingham, will be Craig Smith from the Men’s 1’s, who’s been selected to represent the USA O40’s team for the first time this year. He has been out to America for a few trials and training sessions as well as to play in the Cal Cup against several current full international players.
And not forgetting veteran goalkeeper Ronnie Stott who represented Scotland O65’s in both the Celtic Cup in Aberdeen in April andthe 4 Nations cup held at Southgate in May. Finishing as runners up in both, Scotland will be heading to Tokyo for the O65’s World Cup at the end of October.