HAVANT have a host of new players as they prepare to lift the curtain on their 2019/20 hockey season this weekend.
They host Oxted at Havant College on Sunday (2pm) in the newly-formed National Division One South.
Chairman Chris Pickett said: ‘This will present us with a greater challenge than last year, as without doubt this new league contains stronger teams than we experienced in the West Conference League last season.’
Havant have lost Ethan Hoddle and Jack Stubbings who have left the area to attend University.
New players include Argentine forward Manuel Silvetti, Polish international defender Jakob Janicki, Jo Barber from Southampton and James Morris who has joined from Devon club Isca.
Fin Carvalho, Connor Lasrado and Morgan Sturt are also new first team squad members after progressing through the club’s junior section.
Interestingly, Morgan is the first player to come from Havant’s Coaching in the Community programme with coach Jon Keynes having ‘converted’ the player from football.
Atiq Arshad, who played for Havant towards the end of last season, is returning - but not until the end of October after Pakistan play the Netherlands in an Olympic qualifier.
Fareham, who are also in the new-look National Division One South, travel to Teddington on Sunday for their season-opener.
THERE is an intriguing early-season Hampshire derby at Henry Cort School tomorrow.
It sees Havant Ladies 1sts travel to Fareham (11.45am) for the second game of the South Club’s Women’s Hockey League Division 3B campaign.
Fareham are the first table-toppers of the season after an 11-0 thrashing of Tulse Hill & Dulwich Ladies 2nd XI last weekend.
Havant are second, having beaten Haslemere 4-1.
Club chairman Chris Pickett said: ‘We have high hopes that they can bounce back into Division 2, having been relegated last season.
‘The squad has been strengthened since last season and now with our ladies training twice a week and with men’s 1st XI player Jamie Whitehouse coaching them, they have every reason to be optimistic.’
Heather Batten led Fareham’s opening day goal blitz with five, with further goals coming from Vicky Field (3), Hannah Simon, Laura Pendleton and Lydia Rowswell.
The score eclipsed Fareham’s previous best South League success - a 9-1 trouncing of Worthing in 2017/18.