Hamburg’s Sportshalle awaits on Wednesday for the 21st edition of the women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championship with six teams going for gold.
It opens with a day of contrasts with hosts and 15-time champions Germany (World Ranking: 1) going up against Türikye (WR: 18) who are playing in their first ever campaign at this level following back-to-back promotions.
The first game is a repeat of a classic from 2020 when Ukraine (WR: 4) and the Czech Republic (WR: 5) played out a thriller, the Czechs edging a 5-4 win in the last minute.
The Netherlands (WR: 2) – winners in 2014 and 2016 – start their campaign against Austria (WR: 8) who are now coached by indoor legend Corinna Zerbs.
It is a much anticipated event having originally been due to take place earlier this year before Covid-19 restrictions forced its postponement. It will be a six-team competition due to the exclusion of 2020 champions Belarus and Russia.
** You can watch every game of the 2022 EuroHockey Indoor Championships via www.eurohockeytv.org; a €3.99 tournament pass is available for all countries EXCEPT Germany for games involving Germany. those games will be geo-blocked due to live broadcasts on local channels. Further details here: https://eurohockey.org/2022/11/30/eurohockeytv-to-broadcast-eurohockey-indoor-championships/
Best finish: 3rd place (1998)
Austria have played in the second highest number of women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championships with 17 previous appearances, their greatest day coming when they finished in third place in 1998.
They bring a quality, balanced team to Hamburg form which it is difficult to pick one key player. Fiona Felber is currently playing at Mannheimer Hockeyclub and represents a young generation who strive to reach their own full potential, challenging herself in the Bundesliga.
Lisa Steyrer and Marta Laginja both play with Harvestehuder THC in Hamburg. Otherwise, there are three players from HDI WAC, five from NAVAX AHTC and one from HC Wiener Neudorf.
Eight of the side from 2020 in Minsk returns with Daria Buchta one to watch on the goalscoring front with nine goals in her last 10 indoor internationals.
Corinna Zerbs has been an ever-present with the side over the past decade but has now moved into a coaching role with the team and is looking forward to a different challenge: “At the last Indoor European Championship 2020 in Minsk, I competed as a player,” she said.
“Therefore, it is a very exciting and special situation for me personally, to be coaching this team at my first European Indoor Championship, as a coach. After all the deferrals, we are very excited that the Indoor European Championship is actually happening and we are looking forward to give it everything we’ve got.”
Indeed, that last tournament in 2020 was an eventful one for Zerbs. They faced a huge battle against Belgium for a spot at the World Cup while the loser would also be relegated. In the match before, she was involved in a collision which saw her land on her collar bone which she had fractured just eight months before. It led to a subsequent ambulance to hospital to check the screws and assess if there was a repeat fracture.
She was eventually discharged at 1am, received physio through the night as she would do anything to play. The next day, Zerbs played her best match of the championship, scored the first two goals for Austria and helped her team to win 3-1.
Squad details: https://tms.fih.ch/teams/6126
Best finish: 3rd (2000, 2020)
The Czech Republic come into the tournament as one of the medal contenders following their epic bronze medal in Minsk in 2020. It was their second time to do such a feat in nine attempts in Europe’s top tier – the other was in 2000 – and came via an epic shoot-out against Germany in the third place playoff.
Adela Lehovcova is one of the world’s undoubted stars of the indoor game. She was joint top scorer in the 2020 championships run to bronze with seven goals while she also got that accolade in 2016 when she got eight goals.
She also netted eight times in 2018 – all told, she was 27 goals in the last four European Championships; she has 38 goals in her last 34 appearances internationally and, for good measure, she warmed up for this event with six goals for her club Slavia Praha last weekend.
Dutch-based Katerina Lacina (HC Laren) is another vital figure as well as Barbora Čecháková who was goalkeeper of the tournament in 2020, a prize she also won in 2014.
The team is coached by Gareth Grundie who was previously the Irish women’s outdoor assistant coach and whose club Ards won the Irish indoor title for seven successive years. His side played a productive series against the Netherlands in the build-up and he is looking forward to seeing how things pan out.
“I’m very curious to see how all the teams will be doing. After all, thanks to Covid, there wasn’t much play in the hall and everyone is kind of looking for each other.
“We will build mainly on experience and we will want to fight for medals. Personally, I think that all the matches will be even, and thanks to the head-to-head system, everything will be extremely interesting. It will depend on every game and every goal we score. We’re all really looking forward to it.”
Squad details: https://tms.fih.ch/teams/6122
Germany (pictured above)
Best finish: 1st (15 times)
The 15-time champions are hoping to win back the title after a relative drought dating, having ‘only’ won once in the last four editions while they missed out on a medal in 2020.
Germany were the undoubted stars of the board between 1975 and 2012 when they won all bar two of the titles but the last decade has been much more competitive. They are the only ever-present in the competition.
Under the leadership of captain Sonja Zimmermann, they offer a powerful team with two youngsters and ten Olympians. Among them are three veterans, Janne Müller-Wieland (UHC Hamburg), Franzisca Hauke (HTHC) and Lisa Altenburg (Club an der Alster), who will end their international career with a tournament highlight in front of their home crowd in Hamburg.
“In contrast to the men – who have a field world championships right after the European Championships indoors – we don’t have a collision with other international highlights, so we will go full throttle in Hamburg with a real Danas team,” says Valentin Altenburg.
“The idea of saying goodbye to Janne, Sissy and Lisa on the international stage already existed for the tournament date that was canceled in January due to Corona. It’s nice that all three don’t let the opportunity pass them by now.”
In addition to the three Hamburg players, there are also two mega talents in the squad in the form of keeper Mali Wichmann (Club an der Alster) and Sara Strauss (Düsseldorfer HC).
Everyone else was also part of the DHB’s Olympic squad last year: goalkeeper Nathalie Kubalski (Düsseldorfer HC), Viktoria Huse (Club an der Alster), Selin Oruz (Düsseldorfer HC), Cécile Pieper (HGC, Netherlands), Anne Schröder (Club an der Alster) and Pia Maertens (RW Cologne).
Altenburg, Hauke, Müller-Wieland, Pieper, Huse and Schröder were also part of the team that won the World Indoor Championships title in Berlin in 2018.
Squad details: https://tms.fih.ch/teams/6120
Best finish: 1st (2014, 2016)
With two golds, eight silver, and a bronze, the Netherlands are the second most successful side in women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championship history and have reached the final in each of the last four editions.
For this event, Kristiaan Timman’s selection contains five players who have never played in a title tournament in the hall before: Pam Imhof, Mabel Brands (both Kampong), Laura van Heugten (Hurley, photo), Anna de Geus (SCHC) and Tessa Clasener (HDM).
Goalkeeper Alexandra Heerbaart (28), Donja Zwinkels (33) and Lieke van Wijk (29) are the three most experienced players in the European Championship selection. Zwinkels was named player of the tournament in 2020 while van Wijk has been a feature on the top goalscorers list with five in 2020 and eight in 2016
Heerbaart is preparing for her seventh final tournament, Zwinkels has already played five and Van Wijk four. They are the three oldest players in the selection, which has an average age of 26 years.
Squad details: https://tms.fih.ch/teams/6124
Appearances: 1st appearance
Best finish: n/a
Türkiye will make their EuroHockey Indoor Championship debut when they line out in Hamburg following a recent fairytale rise up the ranks. They made their first international outing in 2008 in the old Nations Challenge event in Sheffield and they competed at that level for five cycles before winning the Championship III in Apače, Slovenia in 2018.
Two years later, they swept to second place in Croatia in 2020, earning them back-to-back promotions; they feature eight of the side from that event including captain Perihan Çinar who scored 14 times in that competition.
Indeed, Çinar is among six players who also started the rise in 2018 – Kübra Güzelal, Zeliha Kendir, Meryem Oymak, Fatma Songül Gültekin and Selin Güzeller being the others.
Gaziantep Polisgücü provide the main portion of the panel with five players provided to the national line-up – they currently lead their indoor league with a perfect record of eight wins from eight with Songül Gültekin scoring 37 times in the process.
Their success has been built on a strong commitment to the indoor format with their junior side playing in the last four editions of the top division of Europe, dating back to 2013 – this has included fourth place finishes in 2015 and 2019’ Oymak was the captain in the latter event.
Squad details: https://tms.fih.ch/teams/6123
Best finish: Winners (2010)
The 2010 champions and 2011 World Cup bronze medalists are competing in the European Indoor Championships top tier for the eighth time. They are looking to build on their fifth place finishes in the last three editions of the competition.
Their selection is spread across a number of leading clubs across Europe with players based in Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, England, Germany and Belgium.
Yevheniia Moroz is the captain of the side as well as her club MSC Sumchanka and will be a key player along with Yana Voryshilo, the ex-captain. Voryshilo has been among the top scorers in the last three editions of the Euros, netting 14 times – including 7 in 2018 to be the third highest on the score sheet.
Goalkeeper Tetiana Stepanchenko was named the best goalkeeper at the European Club Trophy outdoors in April.
For their team to come together has been a huge effort given the issues in their country at present. For this, team manager Moroz said their continued ability to play hockey owed a lot to the hockey family, saying: “Thanks to the enormous support of our European Hockey Family: Italian Hockey Federation, Mannheimer HC and KHC Dragons, we were able to safely train and prepare to the tournaments.
“Life goes on and in August we returned home. New challenges awaited us: trainings often interrupted but sirens, temporary lack of electricity and water, etc. We are ready to accept them with dignity and continue to ‘plan’ our future. Our goal is to succeed at the EuroHockey Indoor Championship.”
Squad details: https://tms.fih.ch/teams/6121