10th May 2016, Brussels; As we gear up to the start of the EuroHockey Club Championships in Bilthoven, Barcelona, Prague, Lille and Gibraltar, like the guys the girls are also preparing and host captains; Cata Barguño, RC Polo, Marie Blondel, Lille and Lisa Alevez, Gibraltar took some time out from their preparations to chat to us! 

Cata (main photo) you are captain of RC Polo de Barcelona team that is hosting the EuroHockey Club Trophy, what does playing at home mean to you?  “Given the big amount of people who practice this sport in the city –Barcelona- and therefore, the high number hockey fans, in my opinion I think there is no better place where this tournament could be host. Barcelona has been the city where I have grown up and consequently having the chance to play this championship here, makes me feel very honoured and lucky. I am very excited to live this experience that will definitely contribute to the growth of my hockey learning experience. Being part of RC Polo is a very important part of Cata’s life “In my family sports has always been a very important matter, not only for the discipline but also for the learning experience of working in teams. Therefore, all of the members of my family -as well as I did- joined the Real Club Polo Barcelona when they were born. I started playing Hockey when I was 8 years old; it’s been 14 years now since I hold a stick for the first time. My brother, my father and my grandfather played Hockey and my cousins and uncles did too, so we could say that in my family, hockey is kind of a tradition.” 

Whilst not being aware of every last detail, Cata is very aware of the huge effort by the organisers and “to  all the people who have lately been supporting the organization of this event, I would like to thank them all as without their commitment I am sure this would not be possible.”

They usually play positive, energetic songs in their warm up but don’t have any particular favourites!

Marie Blondel, captain Lille MHC, like Cata is delighted to be playing at home! She feels that the team owes that to the club, but they are aware that it can be distracting to have friends and family around so she hopes that they stay focused! “It’s also an amazing time for the younger players, seeing teams from all over Europe , playing on the same pitch as theirs. Moreover, as you may know, field hockey is not a popular sport in France. An event like the EuroHockey Club Challenge is a great opportunity for French people to discover this amazing game.” 

I asked Marie when she joined Lille “I’m 28. I started field hockey when I was 10 years old. I have been playing at the Lille Métropole Hockey Club for 10 years now.  However I feel like it was yesterday. I’ve got 4 brothers, two of them are playing hockey (the 2 left choose rugby). The three of us play in Lille. My older brother plays in the men 1st team (he used to be captain and is a member of the French team for the indoor season) and my little brother plays in the 3rd team.” 

As for the event itself, she is very aware and grateful to the club!  “The team raised some money by organizing several cake sales during the last matches at home – 1€ per slice of delicious homemade chocolate cake ! We also found sponsors for the event. Nevertheless, the event could not have been set up without the help of the numerous volunteers!’

The target of the team is to play in the final and then Win!

They do have a playlist for their warm-up, and a special one they will be delighted to hear when they score – we will all have to wait to hear what it is! It’s a surprise…

I asked Marie about their oldest member and she didn’t hesitate to reply “Our oldest  member is Cécile Dagostino. She used to play in the French team some years ago. Her nickname is “Maman” (meaning “mother” in French). Together with Juliette Hannebicque, they are our “rocks”. They bring serenity to the group. They can help to calm down the game when it’s needed. They are our metronome.”

As for the youngest player “Our youngest member is Maureen “Mau” Vivaldi. However she’s 14, she gives everything on the field. And she never gives up. Unfortunately, she can not play with us for the European Cup because she is not 15 years old! She will be in one month… Nevertheless, she will stay with us -as a member of the team- during the event.

Marie Blondel

Finally we also got to chat with Lisa Alevez, captain of Hawks, Gibraltar:

Are you excited about playing at home? “Playing at home is making me really nervous but excited at the same time. Knowing that family & friends are coming to watch is added pressure and hopefully we will play our best hockey.”

How long have you been a member of your club and do have other family members in the club? “I consider my whole team as my family as most of us have been playing for over 20 years together . I started 26 years ago and I’ve always been part of the same team. There are still 7 of us in the team from the original starting team!” 

Are you aware of the work being done to host the event by your club and have the team assisted with fundraising etc to make the event happen? “One of the members of my team – Naomi, is the main one responsible for the organisation. She is working very hard to make this a success . We have held several fundraising events like cake stalls , bingo & lots of ticket selling for raffles . We have all looked for sponsors and the Gibraltar government has helped us with the funding of the event.”

And what of past EuroHockey travel? “I have lots of special memories about our trips away and really enjoy watching the other matches as it gives us a chance to watch different teams of a high standard play together .  I’ll never forget on one of our trips, we were traveling through one of the airports, we were on one of the mechanical lanes and our goalie was at the front. Her kit got jammed at the exit and we caused a huge pile-up at the end. Afterwards we laughed so much and still do when we retell it.”

They don’t have a warm-up song, but they do have a very special team! “Our eldest member is Jaqui,who’s 50 already . She can outrun and take on anyone who gets in her way. You’d never believe what her age is. One of our youngest players is our goalie , Chelsea . She’s only 16 but is playing really well. She is really agile and moves about quickly, diving and getting up in a flash. 12 of our team are over 35 years old making us the oldest team (we think and we, the EHF is inclined to agree) playing in this event.” 

Lisa Alvez

Like chatting to the guys earlier it was a real pleasure to chat to our captains ahead of the weekend! It’s so fantastic to see the work and effort on an off the pitch from our clubs! We wish them and all the teams who are taking part this weekend.

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And ALL results will be LIVE here on the site www.eurohockey.org