Give generously! That’s the message from Ards Ladies hockey players as they embark on a massive fund-raising drive ahead of an expensive trip to Portugal in the New Year.
They are representing Ireland at the European Indoor Championship in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon in February.
The girls have already started their attempt to offset the cost of the venture and when you combine that with training and playing outdoors and indoors it’s a hectic schedule for amateur sportswomen.
Ards are combining one evening’s training session to sharpen up both their indoor and outdoor skills with the other weekly session devoted solely to the outdoor game.
Team captain Naomi Elliott firmly believes that the two codes are complimentary and she should know having been a member of the Bowden Hightown team that lifted the English national title a few years ago.
Indoor hockey is taken extremely seriously in other parts of Europe and indeed some countries take a complete break from the outdoor version of the game during the worst of the winter weather.
After around 20 years without any indoor hockey in Ireland it’s now back on the calendar and very soon we will see the third annual Ulster Championship at the Queen’s PE Centre on the Stranmillis Embankment.
That in turn acts as a qualifier for the National Indoor Trophy tournament which takes place in the New Year before the Europeans.
Ulster have quite an impressive record in the all Ireland phase of the competition having won it in each of the years they competed on the big stage.
Ards won the tournament earlier this year to book that European slot and 12 months earlier it was Armagh who took the honours.