Hampstead & Westminster show intent with signings
PUBLISHED: 09:30 01 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:34 01 August 2019
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Hampstead & Westminster have signalled their intent for the 2019/20 season with some big-name signings.
Having seen their men crowned champions during the club's 125th anniversary campaign and the women promoted to the top flight via the play-offs after defending their East Conference title, they have added to their ranks.
Coaches Kate Richardson-Walsh and Sarah Kelleher have brought in four players with lots of Premier League and international quality, led by Olympic and European gold medalist Lily Owsley.
The 24-year-old has over 100 caps for England and Great Britain, as well as 36 goals to her name, and said: "I joined Hampstead because it's an up-and-coming, ambitious and social team and I'm very excited for this new chapter.
"This season I'm looking to settle in and get involved with the club and achieve a top four place in the league."
Owsley will be joined by GB defender Grace Balsdon, who has over 50 international caps and won bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
She said: "I'm very excited to join Hampstead & Westminster. There is a great holistic approach within their squad.
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"It's also a great opportunity to be challenged by new coaches and be part of Hampstead & Westminster's emergence into the Premier League."
Former GB midfielder Joie Leigh returns to England having played in the Netherlands, after six years with Clifton Robinsons, and Holly Hunt completes the quartet after making her senior GB debut in the FIH Pro League this year.
"We are looking forward to the exciting challenges that Premier League hockey will bring this coming season," said Richardson-Walsh and Kelleher.
"We want to build on the fantastic achievements of last season and take the next step on our journey. We are pleased that Joie, Holly, Lily and Grace will be joining the squad and adding yet more quality to an already competitive and strong group."
The men have retained all of their stellar squad and added youth and experience as they defend their title and make their European debut.
Jacob Draper, 21, joins from Cardiff Met, after graduating from Swansea University with a first class degree in Economics, and lines up with several Welsh international teammates, with over 40 caps to his name already.
Hywel Jones also joins, with 27 senior Welsh caps to his name, and head coach Kwan Browne has also added German forward Götz Mahdi after 10 years in the Bundesliga for Nürnberger Hockey Club and Belgian Gaston Golstein, who has played for many years at Racing Leopold Club.
Director of hockey Richard Smith added: "I'm really excited and looking forward to the season ahead, with two top division teams now.
"It's been a great journey over the past few years, with plenty of hard work for both the first teams and the whole club and I am looking forward to seeing if we can continue to make strides on and off the pitch as a club, whilst of course making sure we continue to enjoy ourselves in the process!"