🇩🇪 Germany Hockey : WU21's preparations for the Women's Junior World Cup
Photo Credit : DHB Hockey

It was the starting shot on the way to the Women’s U21 World Championship in early December 2021 in the South African Potchefstroom. From August 6th to 11th, the juniors led by national coach Akim Bouchouchi completed a six-day course at HC Ludwigsburg.

The highlight was the test comparison against the Austrian national team, which was preparing for the current EuroHockey Championship II in Prague under the direction of the German Chris Faust. (Photos: Hellmuth von Prollius)

For national coach Akim Bouchouchi, this measure, dubbed the World Cup course, had the character of a kick-off with a view to the intercontinental championships at the end of the year:

“That was finally the right start for the U21s. So far we have played in a wide variety of constellations, but we hadn’t come together like that. ”

The national coach was finally able to draw on the full potential of the years 2000 to 2004 and invited 26 players, including ten newly crowned U19 European champions. Bouchouchi only had to do without the two Tokyo drivers Pauline Heinz (2001) and Jette Fleschütz (2002).

It is understandable that the start in Ludwigsburg should primarily serve the purpose of forming a team. “We used the course to coordinate all sorts of things,” decided

Bouchouchi: “We wanted to find a common structure and discuss goals.” It was important for the national coach to clarify how things will continue during the time when there are no seminars and when and how the focus can be placed on the World Cup.

Bouchouchi: “The girls take homework from the course with them for this time and will then get together in regional groups.”

Prelude test against Austria’s A selection very promising

The test against the Austrian national team led by Frankfurt coach Christ Faust, which the young Germans won 5-1 in Ulm, 100 kilometers away, showed that things actually went well together at the beginning.

“We wanted to see where we were at an early stage in the course and get to know each other on the pitch,” explains Bouchouchi, why a first serious comparison was made on the second day of the course: Antonia Lonnes, Verena Neumann and Stine Kurz (by seven meters) brought them German women lead 3-0 before the break, Lisa Nolte and Julia Hemmerle increased to 5-0 in quarters three and four, before Austria scored a 5-1 consolation goal.

“For the fact that we were rearranged, some things worked out quite well,” said Bouchouchi.

“We got off to a dominant start and by and large could have made more goals out of our chances and a total of seven penalty corners. So it was the right opponent at the right time: The right opportunity for us to practice and the Austrians were challenged.

”In addition, the SSV Ulm had put on a spectacular spectacle within the narrow framework of the Corona requirements and 200 spectators in the stands authorized.

The team gives itself a manifesto and starts the World Cup project with a lot of spirit

There was also positive feedback from the team itself.

“I was really pleasantly surprised at how much speed there was right from the first session,” stated team captain Lisa Nolte,

“you could see how every single player wanted to play her best hockey to get her place for the World Cup fight for. Right from the start there was a spirit that we dragged through to the very last unit. In the Austrian game there was a clear increase from kick-off to final whistle – and also how much potential there is in the team and what can still be achieved by the end of the year. ”

Nolte from Düsseldorf shares the management of the team with her club colleague Lilly Stoffelsma, who took another look at the course activities outside of the test match: “For many it was a first meeting – new team, new people.

The team spirit was in the foreground and the focus was on getting to know each other both on and off the pitch. We talked a lot about our culture and our values ​​in the U21 and we also set it up as a manifest: How we want to work together and what we expect from each other once each for the Bundesliga “, comments Stoffelsma and adds:” We thought about working on issues in groups,

Bundesliga first round interrupts preparations for the World Cup until October

Because only parallel to the Pro League games of the Danas in two months in mid-October in Belgium will the DHB juniors get together again.

Then a test match against the Belgian U21 is planned. “After the Bundesliga there is a week off,” said Bouchouchi, “and from November 7th to 13th we will be on a course in Spain again, possibly with a tournament and games against the Chilean national team.”

Then the national coach wants nominate their 18-man World Cup squad, who will complete their dress rehearsal against the Dutch U21s shortly before the start of the World Cup as part of the final course in Mannheim. At the beginning of December, it will be about 9,000 kilometers south to the South African student town of Potchefstroom for the U21 World Cup.

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