As part of the full team announcement for Delhi 2010 on 18 August, Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) named the men’s and women’s hockey squads of 16 players, plus 2 travelling reserves, for the 11 days of hockey competition at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
Michael Cavanagh, Chairman, Commonwealth Games Scotland said: “I am delighted to welcome the 32 hockey players to Team Scotland. However making the team is just the first step on the journey, now will come the real test for the athletes of performing to their potential in Delhi.
“Both teams have found themselves in tough pools, but I know they will be battling strongly from the outset, determined to get through the group stages and show what they can do. I wish them all the very best with their final preparations and I look forward to watching them in action in October.”
From a Scottish perspective, the pool draws announced in June by the Commonwealth Games Federation and the International Hockey Federation will provide a full examination of both the teams’ strengths and capabilities.
Scotland’s Senior Men will have to negotiate a difficult set of fixtures in Pool A, where they will face Pakistan in their opening match. The Scots will then encounter the toughest match of their schedule, when they are pitched against the men’s world number one ranked team, Australia, who will be targeting a repeat of four years ago, when they took gold on home soil in Melbourne. Malaysia and India make up the rest of the teams in Pool A, with the national side playing these countries in their third and fourth pool matches respectively.
With all four teams ranked higher than Scotland in the world rankings, Russell Garcia’s men will have to hit the ground running when they reach Delhi for the start of the hockey competition. Realistically, a top eight position will be regarded as a decent result for the men, but the experience of playing these teams will be invaluable as the national side look to progress up the world rankings and towards competing for a podium place in Glasgow 2014.
Included in the men’s squad is Great Britain international Niall Stott, who comes into the Games on form, following some excellent performances for GB and current England Hockey League Premier Division Champions East Grinstead. Also looking to translate their fantastic scoring form from a highly prolific 2009/10 domestic season to the Commonwealth Games will be Kelburne strike-force Kenny Bain and Scotland’s Young Player of the Year, Alan Forsyth, who together netted over forty goals between them for the National League Div.1 and Scottish Cup winners, and who will be in support of GB Olympian Stephen Dick up front.
In defence, the Scots will rely on the steely determination and set piece expertise of stalwart Mark Ralph, whilst experienced Scotland and Great Britain internationalist Graham Moodie will return from injury to add to his 100 caps and join the likes of Chris Nelson and Gordon McIntyre in the midfield battle. Veteran Vishal Marwaha continues to add to his extensive cap collection too, looking to make 170 caps for Scotland whilst playing in Delhi.
Scotland’s Senior Women will be hoping to extend this year’s good form to the Commonwealth Games when they also compete in Pool A of the women’s hockey competition. First up for Gordon Shepherd’s women will be hosts India, before taking on South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago in their second and third pool matches respectively. In their final Pool A fixture, the Scots will relish the opportunity to come face-to-face with defending Commonwealth Games champions Australia, who they ran close in the World Cup Qualifier in Chile earlier this year, only losing by the single goal in the gold medal match.
The Scots have also recorded some excellent results over the summer, including a 3-0 home series win over Ireland, and recent warm-up internationals against world number one Holland, world number four Germany and Belgium, which proved to be very useful exercises as Shepherd looks to increase the focus on improving performance levels against high quality opposition.
Included in the women’s squad are experienced veterans Linda Clement and Samantha Judge, who will both be making it a hat trick of Commonwealth Games appearances in Delhi. Linda recently won her 150th Scotland cap, a fantastic achievement, and she will play a vital role in the progress of the side as she leads the Scots out as national team captain in Delhi.
Head Coach Shepherd has also rewarded Milne Craig Western’s Morag McLennan with a call-up to the senior side, following excellent performances with the Scotland U21s in the 2009/2010 season. At just 20 years of age Morag is the youngest of the players travelling with the squad..
Although the Senior Women will keenly feel the absence of Great Britain internationalist Laura Bartlett due to a knee injury, the team can count on the experience of midfielders Louise Baxter, Ali Bell, and Scottish Women’s Player of the Year, Vikki Bunce, to provide both solid protection in front of a defence including rising star Leigh Fawcett and Cat Forrest, and an additional goal threat by supporting forwards Nikki Kidd, Samantha Judge, and Ailsa Robertson.
Discussing the team selection for Delhi, Head Coach Gordon Shepherd said, “We have a fairly settled squad going into the Commonwealth Games and there are not many changes from the World Cup Qualifier in Chile earlier this year. Obviously, Laura Bartlett won’t be travelling due to an unfortunate knee injury picked up at the end of last season, but the other players coming into the squad who didn’t play in Chile have been selected on merit. Nikki Kidd, Morag McLennan and Becky Merchant have pushed their way into the squad by working hard on their individual skills during training and consistently increasing their performance levels in the matches we’ve played recently.
Shepherd also commented, “We have a difficult draw, so realistically, we’re looking at a top seven place. However, to get into the top six places would be a great achievement. We have to beat Trinidad and Tobago, plus one of the other higher ranked nations in the group, to get there, but these girls have created an upset before, so we’ll certainly give it our best shot.”
Following the announcement of the team, Russell Garcia said, “Our target is to deliver a series of competitive performances in Delhi. It’s not an easy draw, but the players are excited about playing those countries, such as Pakistan and India, that we don’t get to play on a regular basis. We aim to finish in a position higher than our current Commonwealth Games ranking, which is 9th, so a top eight finish would be a good result for us.
“We have a series of warm up matches coming up before we fly out to India, including a five nations tournament in France, so there is time ahead to work with the players and team unit in order to build up the performance levels. The men have had a break from international competition, so gelling together will also be important for us. We’re looking forward to the challenge immensely.”
Team Manager: Eugene Connolly
Head Coach: Russell Garcia
Assistant Coaches: Derek Forsyth, Dave Reid
Team Manager: Lynne Dick
Head Coach: Gordon Shepherd
Assistant Coaches: Murray Carnie, Neil Menzies
Performance Analyst: Andy Kerr