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Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Friday, 30 September 2011 12:02 UK

Canterbury place expectation on junior hockey players

Mel Clewlow
Clewlow has represented Great Britain at three Olympic Games

Canterbury captain Mel Clewlow says the side will continue to develop young players, despite the arrival of two new Great Britain players.

Charlotte Craddock and Dilly Newton replaced Jenny Hall and Tash Brennan at Polo Farm during the summer.

Clewlow told BBC Radio Kent: "We've lost two and gained two but we don't want to hinder our junior players.

"We highlight the junior players early that have the potential to play in the first team and give them the chance."

Despite having international players at Polo Farm in the shape of Susannah Townsend, Nat Seymour and Abby Walker, as well as Craddock, Newton and the retired Clewlow, the Canterbury captain said there was a lot of expectation on the shoulders of the club's bright young stars.

"We've got Grace Balsdon, Lucy Hyams, Rebecca Weston and Eliza Brett. They've all played junior international hockey.

"Those players are having bigger influences on the game. There are expectations on those junior players as well."

And although some of the side's younger players could be unavailable due to university, the former England skipper highlighted that with the right management, the lure of playing hockey for Canterbury could be irresistible.

We've got Grace Balsdon, Lucy Hyams, Rebecca Weston and Eliza Brett. They've all played junior international hockey. Those players are having bigger influences on the game.

Mel Clewlow

"We try gradually feeding the juniors into the first team with the hope that when they're looking at universities, they either stay in and around Canterbury or perhaps go into London but still with the option of coming back to play for us.

"This season we've got eight or nine players in that area that are coming back to play for us. One thing we seem to be quite good at is that once you hook somebody into the club, they're very reluctant to leave.

"We're not a club that pays players to play for us. Those that make the commitment to travel and play for us realise why we don't and they enjoy their hockey."

Clewlow added: "We're very fortunate in that we've got a good coach in Nick Clark. We've got a really good club atmosphere, with a good social side. It's not just about the ladies first team."

Canterbury, who missed out on the English National Hockey League Championship in the semi-finals, losing to eventual winners Reading, currently lie seventh after two games so far this season.

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