Harleston Magpies will this weekend mount their challenge in the Super 6s Championship, with dreams of promotion to the top flight.
Both the men’s and women’s teams play in Division One of the two-week tournament, which effectively constitutes the club’s indoor season.
The annual tournament, sponsored by Jaffa, sees the top two teams promoted and the bottom two relegated from Division One.
And Harleston Magpies are targeting survival at this level, with hopes of one day stepping up to the Premier Division, where the top four teams go on to qualify for the Indoor Championship Finals at The SSE Arena, Wembley.
But Andrew Bedwell, captain of the men’s indoor squad, said it will take time to achieve that aim as they use the tournament to build and consolidate their skills.
Ex-England and GB international Tim Whiteman, a first team player-coach with the Magpies, said: “Training started in the first week of December and the atmosphere amongst the team is great, with the group excited to pit themselves against big clubs and quality players.
“The aim for the team is to maintain their national league division one status and cause the odd upset or two along the way.
“Indoor hockey is a fantastic game, quite different to outdoor hockey with different rules and only six per team, played at a fast pace and high scoring.”
The Magpies will play eight fixtures over the next two weekends in January— with the men playing the first four fixtures at Nottingham Trent University while the women will travel to UWE Centre of Sport in Bristol, before swapping for the following weekend.
The men face Ipswich in their first fixture on Saturday (12.30pm) while the women take on the University of Birmingham (2.30pm).
Bedwell said: “Last year we did really well — our aim was to stay up and we achieved that.
“But this year I think we’re in an even better position, we’ve prepared a lot better and have refreshed the squad.
“So the first focus is to avoid relegation but, if we do that early, then who knows.
“We have some exciting squads and some excited players, there’s quite a few old and experienced heads to help us — including Tim Whiteman.
“His help is massive to us and could make a big difference.”
Lauren Barber, captain of the women’s team said the game was fast-paced and great for fitness levels.
She said: “Everyone’s really looking forward to it, we also have a few youngsters who will play — and they can’t wait.
“We just want to play to the best of our abilities and win games.
“We know we’ll be competing against some top sides who are in the outdoor Premier Division. But we’ll still try hard.”s