GREAT Britain Women have arrived in Poland, and are now preparing for their World Championship qualification matches which begin tomorrow (Wednesday, December 1).
After a long journey from the airport to their base at Lublin – which included a nine-hour coach journey because of the heavy snow which is blighting much of Europe – the team are safely in their hotel.
However, their first rivals Austria have yet to arrive in Poland after their flight was cancelled because of the worsening weather.
The team spent last week in Limburg, Holland, and played three friendlies against top Dutch domestic teams which saw them unbeaten.
The squad were in Holland as guests of sponsors Tasty Limburg, and took part in several promotional events, which even included a trip to a luxury spa!
The whole team – with the exception of goalkeeper Sarah Hargreaves, who was yet to arrive – played a part in the friendlies.
The matches proved excellent preparation for the World Championships, and GB recorded a 37–25 victory over Bevo and a 32–23 victory over Quintus.
With Hargreaves not due to meet up with the squad until Monday in Poland it was a great opportunity for debutant Jane Mayes to show what she could do in goal and she responded with over 42 per cent save ratio in both games.
There were excellent performance throughout but Louise Jukes and Ewa Palies in particular showed a ruthless streak in front of goal.
“The camp in Holland went really well because all our players except Hargreaves were available and especially against Quintos as they had an international physique, very tall,” said head coach Jesper Holmris.
“We are very happy that we now have more players ready to play at this top level but we still need to progress so we can have a very hard preparation before each major tournament where all the players are able to have significant court time so our key players are not playing 60 minutes in all our matches.”
Now in Poland and well prepared for the qualification matches, GB’s schedule is:
Dec 1, GB v Austria, 17.00
Dec 2, GB v Slovakia 17.00
Dec 3, GB v Cyprus 18.15
Dec 5, GB v Poland 15.15
Reflecting on their forthcoming games, Holmris added: “We have not seen Slovakia but we know they will be very strong, along with Austria and Poland so we know it is going to be a very tough competition but it is just another big challenge on the way to London.
“We know we have to bring our very best to these matches and everyone has to play to their maximum but we know we have improved significantly since this event two years ago.
“We have belief in our defence and our goal keepers but we know we still must keep working hard to develop our attack at this level.”