By Rod Gilmour on the Gold Coast
Teams playing at the 2018 Vitality women’s World Cup in London face more time travelling to training for hockey’s showpiece than actual allotted times at the Olympic Park, The Hockey Paper can reveal.
The logistical factor of coping with 16 women teams – up from 12 at the 2014 event in the Netherlands – will test England Hockey chiefs ahead of England’s biggest sporting event in July and August
On Thursday, England Hockey is to mark the 100-day countdown until the World Cup when 100 schoolchildren will join four GB Rio golden girls. But administering the top women’s teams will be a far bigger hurdle.
New Zealand and India are two of the teams who have expressed initial dissatisfaction of having just one hour of pre-tournament pitch time at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre – trimmed from the usual 90 minutes.
“For a country like ours, it’s a cost factor as well. We can’t afford to go elsewhere and hire a bus,” said Mark Hager, the New Zealand coach and one of the favourites.
“What’s frustrating for everybody is that you are sometimes travelling more than you’re playing.”
An England Hockey spokesperson told THP: “We have a clear and transparent training policy that is consistent for all 16 teams. With this number of participating nations, we are working to ensure that if they require, every team can train every day.
“The training schedule has not yet been sent to participating teams, and when it is, every team will be given the opportunity to give feedback on their allocation through official channels.”
Teams are currently working through arrival dates to calculate allocation times.
It is uncommon for teams to have one hour training ahead of a tournament. During the event, however, teams usually train for 60 minutes in between matches.
“Most teams would like to push for 90 minutes and if not to use alternative pitches close to the stadium,” added Hager.
“It’s a difficult thing for England Hockey with 16 teams, so we’ve asked the question.”
For tickets and dates for the 2018 Hockey World Cup check here