Team Canada Women’s field hockey team will play in the Four-Nations Cup in Dublin, Ireland this week as a final tuneup for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Led by Rossland’s Thea Culley, Team Canada will faceoff against Ireland, Chile, and New Zealand in the four-day tournament as a prelude to the XXth Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scot., July 23 to Aug. 3.
Culley, a veteran of 106 Caps, is one of four veteran players remaining from the 2010 Games in New Delhi, India, but is confident with the progress the young team has made under coach Ian Rutledge.
“We have just finished a very intense block of training and the improvements have been significant,” said Culley in an email to the Times. “We are growing as a team and have started to pick up on each individual’s style and preferences. We are connecting well on the pitch and having lots of fun off the pitch.”
Canada wrapped up a five-match tour of the United Kingdom in May where they finished with two wins, two draws, and one loss, including tying the then world number-3 ranked England and beating Wales 4-0 in their final match.
Culley says the team’s greatest strength is its speed, combined with grit and determination, the young squad is ready to compete against the world’s top-ranked teams.
“My expectations are that we compete in every game,” said Culley. “Our focus has been to own our individual role and execute what we need to execute. We are very process oriented because with strong process comes the outcome.”
Recent results bode well for a team that also won bronze in the Pan American Cup in October with a 2-1 victory over Chile, and will open the Four-Nations Cup with a rematch against the South American team on Saturday.
Despite almost eight years playing for the National Team, the 28-year-old Rossland Secondary School graduate couldn’t be more content than competing for her country.
“I am still enjoying it,” says Culley. “When I leave work for training during the day, I can’t wipe the smile off my face. Hockey is definitely still a way better job.”
Culley will be one of almost 300 Canadian athletes attending the Games, joining over 6,500 athletes from 71 countries.
“I am also looking forward to sharing this experience with my family who will be there to support me. They weren’t at the last games in India so it will be very special to have them be a part of the Games as well.”
Team Canada plays Chile on Saturday, Ireland Sunday, and number-4 world ranked New Zealand on Monday before the playoffs on Tuesday.