Published: 00:00, 18 April 2019
The spotlight falls on Holcombe Hockey Club this weekend as they host the biggest event in their history.
Eight clubs from eight different nations will play 16 matches across the four-day weekend in the EuroHockey Club Trophy.
It’s an event Holcombe won last year but staging the tournament takes things to a whole new level.
Holcs coach Leigh Maasdorp said: “It’s massive. The club do an exceptional job and we’ve had volunteers here this week getting everything ready.
“It’s the biggest event we’ve hosted so hopefully people will be there to support us.
“The second half of the season has been really good for us at home. We’ve played some of our best hockey at home and the girls are really enjoying playing at home so hopefully we can carry that momentum and form into the Euros.”
Holcombe, drawn in Pool B, start their campaign against UCD on Friday (5.45pm).
They face Moscomsport at 4.45pm on Saturday and Edinburgh at 4.45pm on Sunday before the final placings are decided in Monday’s play-offs.
Maasdorp said: “We’ve got a team from Ireland up first and we’ve got a team from Scotland in our pool so it’s quite a close-to-home tournament.
“We mostly seem to play Eastern European teams but they’re in the other pool this time.
“It will be interesting. It will be a tough tournament, we play four matches in four days which doesn’t happen at any other tournament.
“Not even internationals play four matches in four days so it will be tough but I’m optimistic and hoping we can respond from a really disappointing game on Sunday.”
That game saw Holcombe beaten 1-0 by Surbiton in the Investec Women’s League final at Lee Valley.
“It’s our third year in a row coming runners-up to Surbiton,” said Maasdorp. “I think that’s probably been the hardest thing for the girls.
“We were supposed to have training on Tuesday night, ahead of the Euros, but I told the squad to take the night off because the players were genuinely gutted.
“We felt like, out of any year, this would be it and to come that close and be divided by one penalty stroke was disappointing.”
It’s a physically demanding week for the Holcombe players.
Maasdorp said: “Last year the play-offs were in April and the Europeans in May but this year, because of the Pro League, they’ve moved the Europeans to the Easter weekend.
“On the one hand, it will be nice to keep some of that momentum but it’s a big ask. It makes the season so much longer.
“Everyone else has their feet up and has probably hung up their hockey sticks for the summer but we’re still looking at four more big games.”
Holcombe will be without Sarah Jones, who’s in the Great Britain squad to face Germany in the Pro League next week.