Field Hockey: Culley leads Team Canada

Rossland native Thea Culley has returned to the Canadian National field hockey team as it embarks on another run at the World Cup.

Rossland native and former RSS Royal Thea Culley has returned to the Canadian National field hockey team as it embarks on another run at the World Cup.

Culley is now the senior member of the national team with 86 senior caps and about six years international experience.

The 26-year-old UBC grad will lead a young national team as it leaves for Trinidad-Tobago today for the first round of qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

The Canadian women’s national team are set to take the first step of qualification in the League Round 1 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago that starts Sunday and goes to Nov. 17. The round-robin tournament will see Team Canada face off against Barbados, Uruguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Venezuela with the top three teams going through to the World League Round 2 in Brazil next spring.

Culley has not played for Team Canada since the Olympic qualifier in India in February, taking time to improve her game in Hamburg, Germany playing in the elite Bundesliga.

“I lived there for three months and also had the opportunity to play in the Euro Club Championship Cup, a tournament that was in Belgium and hosted some of the top club teams of Europe,” said Culley in an email. “That was a really great opportunity for me to play high level hockey every weekend. I also learned a lot about myself since I was the only English speaking player on the team.”

Culley returns to a very different national team than the one she played with at the Pan Am Games in October, where they finished just out of the medals in fourth place.

“We have had about a half dozen players retire so I am now the highest capped player on the team,” said Culley. “I’m part of a really great leadership team and I look forward to the challenge of competition and the new camaraderie.”

As a new quadrennial begins, the Women’s National Team is ultimately building towards the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The World League provides Canada with an excellent opportunity to gain international experience.