Maria Ruiz has 119 caps for the Spanish women’s national team and has a bronze medal from the Women’s Hockey World Cup 2018 as well as a bronze medal from the 2019 EuroHockey Championships. Most recently, the goalkeeper was representing her nation at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, where Spain lost to Great Britain in the quarter finals.
Her roommate for the Olympic Games was one of the younger members of the squad, Laura Barrios. The 21-year-old has been playing for the senior team for the past 12 months, which has limited the midfielder’s opportunities to train and play with the U21 side.
Despite this, Barrios is excited at the prospect of returning to the squad and taking some of the lessons she learnt in Tokyo to the FIH Junior Women’s Hockey World Cup at Potchefstroom in South Africa.
‘My role in the team will be very different in South Africa. In Tokyo I got nervous ahead of some of the games and the senior players, such as Maria, were able to support me. In South Africa, I will be able to be that person for the less experienced athletes in the team.’
‘And she had a great roommate in Tokyo,’ added Ruiz with a laugh. ‘But it was different for the younger players in Tokyo, they did not need to always put in the best performance, some of it was just about experiencing the moment and enjoying it.’
For Barrios, one of the challenges the team will face in South Africa is playing teams from other continents. The experience of playing teams from Oceania and Pan America is not something a lot of the team will have had, so that is an area of play that the midfielder will be able to share with her team mates.
At the FIH Junior Women’s Hockey World Cup, Spain will meet Germany, host nation South Africa and the USA. Their opening match will be a testing encounter against the home nation.
‘We always aim for the podium,’ said Barrios, and her Tokyo teammate added her own ringing endorsement, ‘they can bring back a gold medal.’
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