Stockport’s Kate Richardson-Walsh insists England’s women will go out and express themselves as they look to claim their first ever Unibet EuroHockey Championship title at London’s Olympic Park.
The 35-year-old is part of the 18-strong squad named by head coach Danny Kerry that will look to be crowned European champions when the tournament kicks off on August 22.
The England skipper helped Great Britain to seal Rio qualification with Hockey World League success earlier this year meaning the pressure is off for Richardson-Walsh and co next week.
However, she says the squad are still desperate to make a big impact on proceedings and believes that they can play their best hockey without the pressure of qualifying for Rio.
“The real emphasis this year was to qualify for the Olympics and we have done that and now we can just go and express ourselves,” said Richardson-Walsh, who will be joined in the women’s squad by Reading teammates Susie Gilbert, Alex Danson and wife Helen.
“It’s a cliché for a reason but we are going to take one game at a time and we have some tough group games that we need to focus on.
“We will take each of those on their own and just see where we fall and hopefully we will make it to the semis.
“We will just go from there and see how it goes but we are in a good place and I think we can do well.
“It’s a very different team to the ones I have been in before, obviously I am the oldest now.
“My first tournament was Europeans back in 1999 and I was one of the youngest so it’s nice to come here and be in such a different position to what I was then.”
England have plenty of experience in the tournament with five bronze medals and a silver in their last seven Unibet EuroHockey Championship outings.
But gold has so far evaded the team and Richardson-Walsh wants to change all that on home soil.
“I’m really excited, the Europeans are always a really exciting tournament and I think European hockey is really strong,” she added.
“Having been in an England side with five bronze medals and a silver over the years I would desperately love to go one better.
“Being at home is going to be an amazing experience and it is a really good chance for us to do well.
“The tournaments I have played at home have been immense and if we can get that atmosphere again it will be huge.
“We have got a team that are all different shapes and sizes but we come together and are a strong side.”
The Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015, featuring both England’s men’s and women’ teams, takes place between 21-30 August at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Tickets available at www.eurohockey2015.co.uk