By Harvey Stevens
Durham has been selected as the venue for the Women’s EuroHockey Qualifiers next summer.
It is the first time that international hockey has been played in Durham, and it will see Maiden Castle host some of England’s superstars.
The competition will be held from 22-27 August 2022 and is part of four qualification events for the Women’s EuroHockey Championships taking place the following year.
It is yet more recognition for Durham, who’s reputation within the world of sport seems to be growing by the day.
Women’s hockey in Durham has been on the upward trajectory for some time now, with alumna Tess Howard and current third-year student Fiona Crackles both regulars in the England set-up.
Howard told England Hockey just how important this news is for Durham, and sport in the north-east as a whole. He said: “As a Durham University student, it would be very special to play international hockey back at Maiden Castle; I have such fond memories of my time there ‘defending the Castle’ as we said.
“Having it staged in the north-east of England would be massive for the local clubs too who rarely get international hockey there but give incredible support to our team.
“I’m super excited about the prospect of playing in those matches, giving back to Durham for all they’ve done for me and showcasing our brilliant sport in the region.”
Similarly, the geographical representation of elite international sport across the country is something which England Hockey Chief Executive Nick Pink is hoping will be extended with this news.
“We are delighted to be taking international hockey to as many parts of the country as possible and I am hoping that, by taking our very successful female players to the north-east of England, it will inspire even more people to watch them in action or pick up a stick.”
England will enter the competition as the highest-ranked team and therefore were given the opportunity to host the tournament, subsequently choosing Durham as their venue.
They have been drawn in a group with Wales, Russia, Croatia and Slovakia, with the winner of the tournament qualifying for the top tier of the European Championships in 2023.
Image: Fiona Crackles