By Harry Corish
Izzy Webb believes Wales are good shape as they head towards Birmingham and their hunt for hockey success at the Commonwealth Games.
Webb was part of the Wales women’s team that tied the three-match series against South Africa following a 1-0 defeat in Cardiff on Tuesday.
Wales had earlier beaten their opponents, 1-0, in the first clash – where Great Britain international Sarah Jones made her 100th appearance for her country – before a goalless draw in game two.
It will be only the third time Wales women had faced the South Africans, but the real priority was setting the tone ahead of the Games in Birmingham which begin on July 28.
Both Wales men and women will be in Birmingham, just as they were at the Gold Coast four years ago, where both squads finished ninth.
— Hockey Wales (@HockeyWales) July 19, 2022
Both are confident they can progress further this time with the women’s squad packed with battle-hardened tournament experience.
Six of the women’s squad now have over 100 caps – the latest joining that club being Jones, although she still has some way to go to match captain Leah Wilkinson, the most capped Welsh athlete in any team sport who went into the South Africa series on a staggering 172 caps.
Webb – who plays for Clifton Robinsons – has already picked up 33 caps herself and says: “It is an exciting time to be playing, we have an experienced squad and we have built good depth.
“I think we have a great mix in the group. We have younger players coming through and the experienced girls have been doing really well, we have grown a lot.
“I think we are definitely in a better position than we have been in the past.
Recently in international matches, goalscoring has been a problem for Wales and the South African fixtures underlined their issues.
We have some amazing world class superstars @HockeyWales special praise in particular for our women and head coach @johnners007 … sets up an interesting @birminghamcg22 Commonwealth games… coffees and beer on me in Edgebaston! @sarahjones8888 @ellajackson_28 #WomenInSport 🏴 pic.twitter.com/eTxZJ7q4VG
— Gareth Kear (@KearGareth) July 19, 2022
“We are working on scoring more outfield goals, rather than relying on penalty corners,” adds Webb.
“Everyone is working really hard and the coaches have really upped our training and our preparation in team meetings and analysing our game through videos. We feel really prepared.
“The coaches have been really supportive, not only as a team but as individuals as well. We have been working on our strengths and our weaknesses.”
Wales women start off their Commonwealth Games campaign against Canada on July 29.
There will be a home nations clash in the men’s and women’s competition when Wales men take on England on Sunday July 31, and Wales women face the host nation on August 4.