Rhys Bradshaw’s busy summer will continue later this month when he leads the Wales Under 18 hockey team into the EuroHockey Youth Championships II at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff (22-28 July).
The Cardiff & Met teenager picked up his first senior caps last month on the trips to Poland and Croatia for the Open Series event. In Zagreb he scored his first senior goals as he helped Wales gain promotion.
Bradshaw is joined by clubmate Rhys Payne as two survivors from the 2015 European event at this age group. Payne, a goalkeeper, was only 14 at his debut event in Calais when Wales reached the semi-finals.
The eventually finished fourth after losing 2-1 to Switzerland in the 3/4th Play-Off and a year later in Glasgow they slipped to seventh. Skipper Will Riley, Will Faragher and Miles Margeston were all part of that squad.
Riley, one of five Cardiff & Met players in the 18-strong squad, was also one of eight players who were in the Welsh group that struck gold at the 2016 EuroHockey 5s in Vilnius, Lithuania.
“We’ve trained really well in the last few camps and there is a confidence in the squad that we can do well. Most of us have played together many times before for Wales and we have belief in what we can do,” said Riley.
“To play in a European Championships is a great achievement. I’m fortunate enough that this is my second one and to captain the team at the tournament is a huge honour.”
For head coach Lee Ible it will be a third shot at taking Wales up into the top tier, this time on home soil.
“With the event being held in Cardiff it adds a different dynamic to the competition. We know the venue well, it’s a pitch we have played and trained on countless times and with the support of a large and vocal home crowd we just can’t wait to get started,” said Ible.
“We have prepared well and the boys are in good spirits and are confident in what we can achieve. The atmosphere around the camp is very positive
“We have an experienced squad this year, probably the oldest squad we have taken to an U18 championship. That maturity is a real strength and I’m sure it will help us through the matches we play.
“With a large number having tasted success in European competition before, it gives the group good experiences to drawn upon and use to help drive our performances in the tournament. They are a great group of lads, who are mates on and off the field, and it’s a privilege to work with them.”
Aled Bennett (Chester),Rhys Bradshaw (Cardiff & Met), Harry Copp (Firebrands), Henry Davies (Wrexham Glyndwr), Jude Ellis (Brentwood), Will Faragher (Chester), Johnny Fleck (Whitchurch), Tim Hodges (Bridgend), Connor Horrigan (Neston), Miles Margetson (Chester), Joseff Moyse (Swansea), Rhys Payne (Cardiff & Met), George Rice (Repton), Will Riley (Cardiff & Met), Fergus Stevens (Cardiff & Met), Jet Treasure-Jeffreys (Cardiff & Met), Ollie Wheeler (Swansea), Tom Wright (Reading)
EuroHockey Youth Championship II (U18 Boys) – Cardiff, 22-28 July, 2018
Pool A: Italy, Austria, Russia, Belarus
Pool B: Czech Republic, Scotland, Switzerland, Wales
Sunday, 22 July
11.15: Italy v Russia
13.30: Austria v Belarus
15.45: Czech Republic v Switzerland
18.00: Scotland v Wales
Monday, 23 July
15.45: Russia v Belarus
18.00: Austria v Italy
Tuesday, 24 July
15.45: Scotland v Czech Republic
18.00: Switzerland v Wales
Wednesday, 25 July
11.15: Italy v Belarus
13.30: Russia v Austria
15.45: Switzerland v Scotland
18.00: Czech Republic v Wales
Thursday, 26 July
Friday, 27 July
09.30: 4th Pool A v 4th Pool B
11.45: 3rd Pool A v 3rd Pool B
14.00: SF1 1st Pool A v 2nd Pool B
16.30: SF2 1st Pool B v 2nd Pool A
Saturday, 28 July
09.00: 3rd Pool A v 4th Pool B
11.15: 3rd Pool B v 4th Pool A
13.30: 3/4 – Loser SF1 v Loser SF2
16.00: Final – Winner SF1 v Winner SF2
EUROHOCKEY U18 CHAMPIONSHIP II (BOYS) PREVIOUS RESULTS
2002: Olten (SUI) – 1, Scotland; 2, Russia; 3, Switzerland; 4, Italy; 5, Czech Republic; 6, Wales; 7, Denmark
2003: Gniezno (POL) – 1, England; 2, :Poland; 3, Italy; 4. Switzerland; 5, Wales; 6, Czech Republic
2005: Rakovnik (CZE) – 1, Russia; 2, France; 3, Wales; 4. Switzerland; 5, Czech Republic; 6, Italy; 7. Portugal; 8, Croatia
2007: Milan (ITA) – 1, Spain; 2, Poland; 3, Switzerland; 4, Wales; 5, Italy; 6, Austria; 7, Czech Republic; 8, Belarus
2009: Vienna (AUT) – 1. Ireland; 2, France; 3, Wales; 4, Austria; 5, Italy; 6, Switzerland; 7, Ukraine; 8, Croatia
2011: Cernusco (ITA) – 1, Scotland; 2, Austria; 3, Poland; 4, Switzerland; 5, Wales; 6, Italy; 7, Ukraine; 8. Czech Republic
2013: Gasawa (POL) – 1, Ireland; 2, Russia; 3, Poland; 4, Wales; 5, Italy; 6, Switzerland
2015: Calais (FRA) – 1, Italy; 2, Czech Republic; 3, Switzerland; 4, Wales; 5, France; 6, Austria; 7, Poland; 8, Turkey
2016: Glasgow (SCO) – 1, France; 2, Poland; 3, Scotland; 4, Austria; 5, Russia; 6, Switzerland; 7, Wales; 8, Ukraine
The Welsh Girls will get into action a week earlier than the Boys when they compete in the U18 Girls EuroHockey Championships B Division in Rakovnik, Czech Republic (15-21 July).
Head Coach Gwyn Williams used a series against Ulster to prepare his players for the tournament and will be hoping to build on their promotion from the last campaign in Gibraltar in 2016. ON that occasion they struck gold as they beat both the host nation and Switzerland
That earned them a return to Division B, where they were runners-up to Russia in Prague in 2011 in their best performance to date.
“A European Championship is about performing at a consistent level and having the athletes peak both mentally and physically. Playing five matches in a week is extremely demanding, but these players have demonstrated their own sense of resilience and look in good condition,” said Williams.
“Tournament hockey can be unpredictable, but we feel our brand of hockey will give us the necessary elements to perform and get some results. It’s an exciting time for these young athletes as they look to develop their learning from this experience and emulate the success they have witnessed of their senior hockey teams here in Wales in recent times.”
Wales Women U18 Squad
Emma Brierley (Colwyn Bay), Jemima Rees (Cheltenham), Lora Constable (Dysynni), Tali Swinburne (Stourport), Emily Drysdale (Cheltenham), Cari Davies (Ardudwy), Megan Bowen (Woking), Millie Walters (Yeovil & Sherbourne), Cerys Preston (Stourport), Sophie Gorman (Whitchurch), Louise Loughlin (Cardiff & Met), Catryn Langley (St Albans), Katie Mulroy (Cardiff & Met), Nell Butler (Cardiff & Met), Maisie Riley (Gwent), Lily Roberts (Cardiff & Met), Jessica Hill (Whitchurch), Beth Wood (Cardiff & Met)
U18 Girls EuroHockey Championships Division B, Rakovnik, Czech Republic (15-21 July)
Pool A: Lithuania, Russia, Scotland, Wales
Pool B: Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland
Sunday, 15 July
11:15: Russia v Lithuania
13:30: Scotland v Wales
15:45: Poland v Italy
18:00: Czech Republic v Austria
Monday, 16 July
15:45: Lithuania v Wales
18:00: Scotland v Russia
Tuesday, 17 July
15:45: Italy v Austria
18:00: Czech Republic v Poland
Wednesday, 18 July
11:15: Russia v Wales
13:30: Lithuania v Scotland
15:45: Poland v Austria
18:00: Italy v Czech Republic
Thursday, 19 July
Friday, 20 July
09:30: 4th Pool A v 4th Pool B
11:45: 3rd Pool A v 3rd Pool B
14:00: SF1 – 1st Pool A v 2nd Pool B
16:30: SF2 – 1st Pool B v 2nd Pool A
Saturday, 21 July
09:00: 3rd Pool A v 4th Pool B
11:15: 3rd Pool B v 4th Pool A
13:30: 3rd/4th Place – Loser SF1 v Loser SF2
16:00: Final – Winner SF1 v Winner SF2