KATE and Helen Richardson-Walsh are leaving Reading HC to embark on an exciting new chapter of their lives, writes Dave Wright.

The married couple have agreed a two-year deal to play for Bloemendaal, one of the leading clubs in the Netherlands.

“It is a new experience and an exciting times ahead for us,” said Helen.

They confirmed their move on Tuesday, the same day Great Britain revealed their squad for the Olympics.

And after the games both are expected to call an end to their illustrious international careers.

“We will make a decision later, as at the moment we are just focusing very strongly on Rio,” Helen added.

“But we are at the back ends of our careers and this (joining Bloemendaal) is a good way for us to continue playing professionally.”

Helen revealed that the club had contacted the duo, who both played for different teams in the Netherlands earlier in their careers.

“Bloemendaal want us to give their team a bit more experience because they have a young team, some of them very young,” added Helen, who was voted GB’s player of the tournament in the Champions Trophy last week when they could only finish fifth of sixth.

“Their men’s team has been very successful for a number of years and now the club want to try to develop their women’s team. So in that respect it’s very exciting for us.

“We are looking forward to working with their coaches Teun de Nooijer and Thomas Tichelman.”

Kate, 36, will help with the coaching of their junior teams while Helen will concentrate on playing.

Helen, who is two years younger than her partner, added: “We will miss Reading but I have had seven years there and I think that is a good stint at one club.

“We have enjoyed many successes and played for some fantastic teams. We have also made some really good friends.

“We obviously wish the club all the best and hopefully they can develop.

“I have seen what Mike (coach Irving) has programmed for next season and what he is trying to put into place.

“He is planning to bring in new players and he is doing everything possible to get Reading back up towards the play-offs.”

Kate added: “What I like about the Netherlands is the family culture of the hockey club.

“Everyone helps out. From minis to veterans it’s a kind of family atmosphere and it is that I really love. “ The Richardson-Walsh duo plan to start the season with Bloemendaal but later in the year will take a break to go travelling around the world.

Alex Danson, who is also in the Olympic squad, is uncertain about her future. She didn’t play for Reading at all last season, when they narrowly avoided relegation.

“I won’t make any decision about next season until after Rio,” she said.

Susie Gilbert, who did play regularly for the Blues, failed to make the GB squad – unlike her boyfriend Nick Catlin, the former Reading player now with Holcombe.

There was also disappointment for two other Reading players, Simon Mantell and Dan Shingles, as they have been named among the first three reserves, along with former Sonning Lane goalkeeper, James Bailey, now with Wimbledon.

Mantell missed the London Olympics as it came too soon after fracturing his fifth metatarsal in a match against India.

Mantell and Shingles both confirmed they will be back playing for Reading next season.

One or two others are expected to leave but there will be new faces in Andy Watts’ squad.