Birchfield Harriers take a step into the unknown on Sunday when they return to European competition for the first time in nearly two decades.
The Perry Barr-based outfit will represent their country at the Champion Clubs Cup in Slovakia where they will face opponents drawn from across the continent.
Lyn Orbell’s squad earned the right by winning the national Premier Division title last summer after two years of near misses.
Having overcome the powerhouse City of Manchester, who have dominated domestic athletics in recent times, the Birmingham outfit now take on some of the strongest club sides in Europe.
As well as facing the host club, AK Spartak Dubnica, they will also go head to head with AK Borac from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Czech club USK Praha, Danes Sparta AM, Macabi Reshon Lazion from Israel, Slovenia’s AD Mass Ljubljana, AC Crvena Zvezda from Belgade and Swiss club LG Bern.
And while Orbell admits she is not sure what to expect from her rivals, she has confidence that her own team will acquit themselves well in their first European competition for 17 years.
“You can never be sure about the opposition but I’d like to see us challenge for first or second place and promotion back to Group A.
“Then if the girls could all stay fit and perform well in an Olympic year you’d have to say the trip has been a success.”
Indeed the trip might not have happened at all had the Slovakians not offered to host it after uncertainty about the tournament lasted until January.
Birchfield considered doing the honours and will look to use this weekend’s experience as a fact finding mission to see if they can offer the event a home in 2013. That confusion was also compounded by the fact Manchester’s failure to send a team last season meant the UK’s representatives were due to be relegated from the top league to Group C.
Orbell lobbied UK Athletics who successfully argued for Birchfield to be put in the second tier.
But now they are sure they are taking part, it’s all about the winning and they would rather have travelled with Commonwealth champions past and present Louise Hazel and Kelly Sotherton.
While the former is unavailable the latter is injured, which means Orbell has had to select three Under-20s.
Otherwise she is happy with a squad which includes national No.1 shot putter Eden Francis, who will also compete in the discus, and the experienced Zoe Derham in the hammer.
On the track European Under-23 bronze medallist Meghan Beesley will lead the charge over the 400m hurdles, while Commonwealth relay silver medal winner Nadine Okyere runs the flat.