Gooderham factor is key to GB future
SO it begins. The announcement of both the men’s and women’s Great Britain and England squads have seen 24 new faces – nine men, 14 women – across the centralised programme.
Surbiton remain the market leaders in terms of inclusion numbers in the women’s squad. But for Georgie Twigg’s decision to end her international career, coach Danny Kerry would have 10 members under his wing.
But Kerry has also handed four coveted slots to four University of Birmingham players, who will join forward Lily Owsley on the path to Tokyo 2020.
Credit of course goes to the impregnable work achieved by their head coach Phil Gooderham, who year-on-year usually has to contend with graduated students leaving and having to find suitable replacements.
Time will tell if some of these fresh faces at England Hockey's headquarters are lured further south or east by the title-chasing clubs. This, of course, would be a shame, both for the university and the game in general. And for Gooderham, who has also been praised for the way he handles the annual exodus at the Premier Division side.
After a few lean years, Gooderham has managed to build on his team thanks to a raft of skillful freshers in the last two seasons and, coupled with the return of Rio Olympian Lily Owsley, the young squad has lifted his side into fifth place ahead of the second half of the outdoor season.
Gooderham said that it was “absolutely incredible” that nine of his side had been selected for the women’s Under-21 World Cup in December. “They work so hard and are so committed in everything they do,” he said.
Asking them to commit down the line to the University side in the next few years will be a tough ask, too. The M40’s proximity to Bisham may help. It’s the least Gooderham deserves.
****** Is anyone else questioning why world hockey chiefs have gone for the 4 x15 minute quarters? It seems that players have never been fitter, that interchange has now been fully adopted, is better understood and yet we seem to be shortening the game. Soccer has 2 x 45 minute halves and rugby 2 x 40 minutes, so why has hockey gone for a ‘less is more’ option?
Television scheduling gets blamed for most things but given that TV platforms like nice, round hour slots, it does seem that 4 x 20 minutes with breaks would have got us closer to the two-hour window that we would seek to occupy.