With England having qualified for the Junior World Cup to be held in South Korea in September, this year's Under-21 competition will be of particular importance. It will give England's coach, Mary Nevill, an early opportunity to assess potential players under tournament conditions, although the weather in Seoul is guaranteed to be much more favourable for hockey than that expected at Milton Keynes.
The Midlands, who won all three titles last year, can again be expected to dominate, with the Olton club likely to make an impact. The club, runaway leaders in Division One of the National League, supplies four top players for the Midlands Under-21 - the Wright sisters, Lucilla and Sally, along with Kerry Moore and their captain Jennie Bimson. There are three more in the Under-18s, including Gabi Godwin, who last year while playing for her school, King Edward VII Birmingham, scored the first goal at the National Stadium.
The Men's Under-17 and Under-15 tournament at Bristol will feature a number of players who have already made their debuts in the National League.
Two days into last year's tournament the icy weather stopped play, with the Midlands on top in both age-groups. Again they are likely to be to the fore but the dark horses for the senior title could be the South West, coached by Teddington's John Barrett, who include Reading's Jonny Loose and Surbiton's Jody Smith.Reuse content