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Young Magpies looking to make impact at Nationals

TOP TEAM: Harleston Magpies Under-14 Girls
TOP TEAM: Harleston Magpies Under-14 Girls

Harleston Magpies’ reputation for having one of the best youth set-ups in the country is set to be further enhanced this weekend.

The Weybread club are preparing for both of its Under-14 sides to be in action at the National Finals, where they will pit themselves against some of England’s brightest talents.

The Girls will be in action at Lee Valley on Sunday, with Repton (9.45am), Reading (12.00pm) and Sevenoaks (3.45pm) providing the opposition.

The team made history by advancing through the Regional Qualifiers to reach this stage, and now head coach Jim Menzies is hoping the girls can make an impact on the national stage.

“It is the first time ever as a year group we have reached the Nationals and that is what we set out to achieve,” he said.

“Whatever happens in the finals now we have nothing to lose — there will be some bigger clubs than us there.

“But we are also not just going to make up the numbers and be cannon fodder.

“We will have to work very hard to win any of our matches, but the girls are prepared to do that.”

In contrast, a number of the Boys’ squad that will be in action on Saturday reached the Nationals as Under-12s two years ago.

And their head coach Andrew Bedwell is hoping that experience will hold his team in good stead when they come up against Cheltenham (9.50am), Brooklands MU (12.00pm) and Canterbury (1.40pm).

“They played strong teams a couple of years ago and I am not sure they scored a goal,” he said.

“But they know what the tournament is all about and that will help us.

“We played really well in the Regionals and probably surpassed my expectations.

“They really stepped up, played some excellent hockey and scored some great teams goals.

“We are looking for more than two years ago and I am confident they will do that.”

• Harleston Magpies Over-35s lost in a penalty shootout to Cantebury in the Over 35’s Tier 1 Cup final on Saturday after a 0-0 draw.

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