AFTER a week of happy recollections marking the fifth anniversary of Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, Kareena Cuthbert finally gets to enjoy a miniature version of her own.

Scotland’s hockey captain was a frustrated spectator in 2014, a cruciate knee injury denying her the chance to take part in a home Games. Now opportunity knocks once more. International hockey is back in Glasgow this week with the women’s European Championships II getting underway today and running until Saturday’s final when Cuthbert hopes to lead the Scots back into European hockey’s top tier.

The 32 year-old has long since made her peace with what happened in 2014 – she appeared in the two Commonwealth Games either side in Delhi and Gold Coast – but the chance to feature at a major hockey event on home soil will help fill one of the few remaining gaps in an otherwise bulging CV.

“This is a special one because it’s at home,” she said. “Because I missed out on Glasgow in 2014 I’ve been really looking forward to this one in particular.

“It was really frustrating at the time not being able to play because of injury but that happens in sport. You have your highs and your lows and that was a real disappointment. But it’s a long time in the past and now we have another home tournament to look forward to.

“It’s a little bit easier for friends and family to come along and watch you in action and there’s always a great atmosphere. Expectations are that we will do well so I’m excited to get started.”

The eight-team tournament on Glasgow Green sees Scotland in a group with Austria, Czech Republic and Ukraine for their first Euros outside of elite level since 2011. They won the tournament on that occasion and a top-two finish here would see them elevated back to the top tier for the next championships in 2021.

“It’s challenging trying to stay in the A division,” admitted Cuthbert. “Having done it for three consecutive tournaments to stay in the top six in Europe was a pretty big thing for us against the likes of Germany, Holland and England.

“We want to get back to that level again and, without being complacent, we believe we have a great opportunity at home to do that.

“We watched the men’s team win promotion two years ago and that was amazing. Hopefully it’s our turn now.”

Cuthbert, a physiotherapist, is one of many in the squad with regular commitments to fulfil outside of hockey. With no funding available there has been little opportunity for the squad to train full-time together in the build-up but the Western Wildcats player is confident regardless.

“We didn’t have funding for a full-time programme so we’ve had to rely on training camps and friendlies when we’ve managed to get together,” she said. “The build-up has been limited as a lot of us have other commitments.

“We’ve probably had a couple of girls withdraw this year as it’s taken its toll. It’s years of asking employers to be kind and giving you a lot of time off, especially in the summer.

“But we work closely with the Institute of Sport to try to help with that flexibility and we’re grateful for any sponsors we have – BOHO are the latest on board – as that definitely helps with our preparations.

“There’s a commitment to be made. I hate the word sacrifice as it’s not a sacrifice. It’s a choice whether you want to play or not. And if someone chooses to play, you want them to commit. I wear the captain’s armband but everyone in the group encourages everyone else.”

Cuthbert, a gregarious individual known universally as Kaz, is one of the senior figures in what she calls “a fresh-faced squad”. But if she is planning on making this her tournament swansong, she is keeping that to herself for now.

“Any time you get to pull on the shirt, sing the anthem and play international hockey is still a real honour. You’re playing for your country alongside your friends and there’s nothing better than that.”

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