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Wales’ Ella Jackson Believes Swansea Hockey Club Can Climb Back to the Top


By Graham Thomas

Wales goalkeeper Ella Jackson believes Swansea Hockey Club can start the climb back towards the top level when their season begins on Saturday.

Swansea open their National Hockey League Division One North campaign at home to Durham University, three years to the week since they became the first Welsh club – men’s or women’s – to play in England’s Premier Division.

Their brief stint in the top flight lasted just one interrupted season and one full season that spanned Covid lockdowns, before they were relegated.

But Jackson believes the arrival of former Egyptian international Mo Samak as new head coach this summer can usher in a revival in their fortunes.

“Mo has come in along with Lee Marshall on the coaching side and they are really keen for us to progress,” says Jackson, who is in her third season with Swansea.

“Any time you get new coaches in, there are challenges and we have also brought in some new faces into the playing squad so it’s been about adapting.

“We are aspirational as a club and our long-term vision is to play at the highest level. We would love to win the league this season, but if we can make sure we’re in the mix, fighting for it, then you never know what can happen.”

Under former coach Paul Edwards, Swansea finished sixth in the 10-team Division One North last season, but will include up to six new players this weekend.

Most of those are youngsters recruited through links with Swansea University, leaving 28-year-old Jackson – the only player from a Welsh club in the current Wales squad – as the most experienced player in the group.

“I’ve got the opportunity now to work with younger players and share my knowledge and experience, which is a positive for me and a positive for Welsh hockey,” says Jackson.

“I enjoy seeing what we can achieve and build together. I think sometimes the Welsh clubs can be written off a little bit, so it’s nice to try and disprove those people.

“It’s massively important for Wales to have thriving clubs. Swansea – and on the men’s side, Cardiff and Met – have been the flagship clubs, showing we can compete at the highest level.

“It’s huge for the growth of hockey in Wales that we have successful clubs in order to retain players in Wales. That comes from having a depth of clubs, which is definitely happening.”

While Swansea host Durham University – who finished third last season, elsewhere, relegated Buckingham start away to Sutton Coldfield.

Newly-promoted Olton and West Warwick host last season’s runners-up, Stourport.

Also in action this Saturday are Cardiff and Met men’s team who face their first away trip after promotion to the Premier Division for the first time.

They are at Reading, where they will be looking to make amends after opening their season with a 4-1 defeat at home to Southgate a week ago.

Around 600 supporters saw Cardiff and Met play their historic fixture at Sophia Gardens and many of those will be traveling up the M4 to Reading.

“For the club and Welsh hockey it was a really good event,” said Cardiff and Met coach Walid Abdo.

“I’m proud of the way we played for our first outing and am looking forward to the next few weeks. It’s going to be a steep learning curve but I’m confident we can cope at this level.”

Vitality Women’s Division 1 North

Swansea W1 v Durham University 1

King George V Playing Fields, Swansea, 12.00pm.

Men’s Premier Division

Reading v Cardiff and Met

Reading Hockey Club, Sonning Lane Water, 6.30pm.


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