Vikki Bunce will lead Scotland out against England at Perth tonight determined to cap her debut as captain with a confidence-boosting victory in the weekend series.
The 30-year-old forward faces three more games at Bell’s Sports Centre as coach Gordon Shepherd completes his build-up to Division Two of the EuroHockey Indoor Hockey Championships.
Bunce will also lead the squad, which includes six players who have competed in Europe before, at the European event in Lithuania from 24-26 January. The Tayside-based mother of one, who teaches at The High School of Dundee, can hardly contain her excitement.
Bunce, who has over 120 Scotland caps and 11 for Team Great Britain, aims to preserve Scotland’s status in Division Two and she believes this weekend’s matches are extremely valuable for the squad.
The veteran, who was part of the GB squad for the London Olympics and Team Scotland at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, does not yet know the composition of the England side but she knows that whoever comes north for the 7:30pm start will be tough to beat.
The Dundee Wanderers forward said: “Having six players who have played in Europe before is invaluable. There is also a good balance in the squad between the experienced players and the young ones. Some of them, including Sarah Robertson and Louise Campbell, are in the national squad. It will, however, a big honour to captain Scotland. I did it once in a friendly some time ago but this is for real.”
She added: “Gordon [Shepherd, Scotland’s coach] spoke to me during a recent training session and asked if I wanted to do the job. I had no hesitation. I’ll have to do the team talk to the girls before the game but everybody in the game knows I’ve normally got something to say anyway.”
Scotland follow up with games at 11am and 3.30pm tomorrow and then 12.30pm on Sunday, while their male counterparts are setting their sights on a promotion push as they compete in the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championship II in Bern, Switzerland. They have their first two matches today against Belarus and France.
The Scots feature in Pool A and will play Switzerland tomorrow. Belgium, Denmark, Slovakia and Ukraine make up the teams in Pool B.
Teams finishing in the top two of the competition will qualify for the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championship in 2016, and will also qualify for the FIH Indoor World Cup in 2015, along with the top six nations in the EuroHockey Indoors in Vienna this weekend.
Men’s coach Derek Forsyth said: “Our target is to finish in the top two and qualify for the FIH Indoor World Cup. It will be a great challenge as each team will be aiming for this. There are no favourites as all of the teams are on a very similar level.”
Forsyth’s players enter the competition on the back of an encouraging Tri-Nations success against Belgium and England in Brussels last weekend.