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Holcombe men and women set to start their National League Premier Division campaigns this weekend

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Holcombe Hockey Club return to competitive league action this weekend.

The National League, Premier Division resumes with a different format for the men and women, with a ‘split league’ structure.

Holcombe men start on Sunday at home to Old Georgians while the women - who are once again being coached by the returned Kevin Johnson - begin with a home game against Loughborough Students on Saturday.

Both the men and women will be in an 11-team division, playing each of the other 10 teams once before the league shuts down for Christmas. Phase two, starting in February, will see the top six and bottom five split, playing each other twice.

At the end of the season there will be a series of play-offs that decide who is promoted, relegated and crowned league champions.

Ladies head coach Johnson, who led Holcombe to the top-flight in his previous spell as coach, left the club in 2018 to concentrate on international duties with Wales as well as coaching on the GB Elite Development programme.

They have a new captain in Harriet Pittard, with Johnson saying: “Harriet has always been selfless in her character and I’m sure the team will benefit massively from her support and guidance individually and collectively, especially in these unique times we continue to face and the challenges we will meet as a team in the months ahead.”

Among the new recruits for the ladies are forward Corey Mayer, moving from the US. Earlier this year she was picked for the USA Women’s National Development Team. Also arriving is experienced defender Luciana Galimberti from Argentina.

The men have new additions too, including goalkeeper Ollie Payne, joining from Durham University after helping them secure promotion to the Premier Division last season. South African forward Ryan Crowe and Sam Hooper, from Exeter University, have also joined.

Below the top level, in Division 1 South, Canterbury men and women will be getting their 2020/21 league seasons underway the following week. The ladies host Cambridge City at Polo Farm next Saturday while the men face Kent rivals Sevenoaks the next day (September 27).

Read more: The latest sports news from Kent

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