Irish international strike Chloe Brown will be a key player for Ards in their EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy trip to Lithuania this weekend.
The 23-year old will be taking part in her fifth Euro campaign and is the team’s leading goal scorer in Europe, once having hit 18 in six games at a third-tier tournament.
However Chloe is the first to admit the second division is a massive step up in class as Ards prepare to tackle sides who play nothing but indoor hockey for several months in winter. Last year the six-times Irish champions punched above their weight to retain their status at the same level in Dundee.
“The step up from the third to second tier is massive and it hit us by surprise last year so each year we have to be better in order to stay up.” said Chloe.
“But we have shown that we are getting better and competing with the bigger nations.
“The teams we will be facing will have just finished their respective indoor leagues where they have gained competitive experience against other clubs over a period of time.
“The majority of the teams will have stopped outdoor hockey solely to focus on indoor and will be prepared technically and tactically for the tournament.
“We know some of the teams that are attending this years competition, having played against them during previous Europeans but all the teams will be very good and will be well drilled.”
Ards will be without the experienced Naomi Grundie, who is on maternity leave, and former international Tamara Macleod and have three players making their debuts at this level.
However Chloe believes that the likes of Ellen Robinson, Jane Kilpatrick and Alana Doyle will learn from the experience with her help.
“When I first started playing at Ards seven years ago, the older players took it in their responsibility to look out for us younger players.” she added.
“I feel we need to help bring on the younger players in order to achieve our overall goals and when they get older they can repeat the cycle.”