Surbiton Hockey Club skipper Tim Deakin wants his young team to take inspiration from the 2012 Olympic Games and secure European qualification.
The 25-year-old, who will start his second year as captain when the season starts on Saturday, also believes the new faces at Sugden Road will complement the young players coming through the ranks
to make Surbiton a force to be reckoned with in the England Hockey League Men’s Premier Division.
Surbiton finished fifth last year, but Deakin claimed they can win the league – be it this year or next – and he puts it all down to the new head coach Todd Williams.
Deakin said: “Pre-season has been going brilliantly – every time there is a change of coach people feel as though they need to up their game.
“Todd has introduced a new style of play and both in training and matches we have been putting this into practice.
“Todd is a forward-thinking coach who is constantly studying the game. He has brought a clear direction to the group and everyone is looking forward to working under him.
“A successful season would be to qualify for Europe, but without doubt we have a group of players who want to win the league and we have the squad that can do it.
“Whether that happens this year or next, it is our ultimate target, but there is no pressure to achieve this straight away.”
With James Tindall and Rob Moore set to return from Olympics duty, Deakin believes the club’s young players have started to believe they can be inspired by their exploits.
Deakin said: “The Olympics has truly inspired a generation and that will benefit our sport greatly.
“Ultimately I hope that it will prove to be a driving force for our youngsters to strive towards.
“We have some great potential in our squad and there is no reason why players such as Ben Tibble, James Royce, Adam White, Jonny Ruiz and Jonny Gall can’t be the next generation to represent our
country at the Olympics.
“They will also benefit from some of the new faces that have been brought in here, such as James Royce, Rob Schilling, David Kettle and Tom Merchant.
“They have been bedding in very well, while the young players have been playing with a style and composure beyond their years.”
Surbiton face the toughest of starts today when they travel to East Grinstead, who finished top of the Premier Division last year, only to lose the end-of-season play-off match.
But Deakin insisted they had the tools to do the job.
He said: “Competition for places can only be good in terms of getting the best out of the squad.
“You do not win the league or get into Europe with 16 players, you need 25.”