England aim to repeat Women's Euro Beach Soccer Cup success

Gemma Hillier believes England can retain their title when they head to the European Championships in Portugal.
England won the Euro title last yearEngland won the Euro title last year
England won the Euro title last year

Many of the players feature for the Portsmouth beach soccer club who have this summer reached the Euro Winners' Cup final at the same venue in Nazare.

Now they are focused on the national team at the Women's Euro Beach Soccer Cup from July 6 to July 8.

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They know it will be a challenge to repeat the international success with rivals training more and getting stronger.

But Hillier and her team-mates who also featured for Portsmouth will be very hungry to bring the trophy back, along with the rest of the squad.

She said: '˜We won the tournament last year, so the aim has to be to retain the title.

'˜We know once you get to the top, the hardest bit is staying there. Every team that plays you, it is their cup final, everyone wants to beat the champions.

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'˜Now the grass season has finished we should be able to have more training sessions training as a team.'

For the players involved in the Euro Winners Cup it was another amazing experience.

Although they lost in the final they really performed well throughout the tournament.

Hillier added: '˜It's always a great experience playing in the Euro Winners Cup, getting to train, play and watch some of the best male and female players in the world.

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'˜But it's also great to experience the culture, and how they develop beach soccer. They had an under-six tournament on while we were there with mini pitches, it was so good.'

The players in the national team and the club side are developing all the time and gaining from the new experiences like this.

Both Katie James and keeper Hannah Haughton caught the eye as they helped Portsmouth impress in the Euro Winners Cup.

Tournaments give players a chance to really shine.

Hillier said: '˜Â Katie James definitely grew into the tournament, she is a player who has dedicated her past year to beach soccer. Her commitment to training and improving definitely showed in the Euro winners, she performed consistently throughout.

'˜We had an outstanding performance from goalkeeper Hannah Haughton, who is new to the sand this year, as she saved three penalties in the quarter-finals.'