The Vitality Women’s Hockey World Cup is here and follows the football version played out in Russia. It seems like weeks ago now, but Germany and Argentina failed to even make it out of the group stages, the Netherlands weren’t even at the World Cup, while Australia, to a lesser extent, also didn’t make the knock out stages.
So the four sporting powerhouses will hope to make amends in London over the next two weeks where they will all be hoping to lift hockey’s showpiece trophy.
The Hockey Paper put questions to all four nations’ embassies in London. Argentina and the Netherlands’ ambassadors responded in kind, while Australia’s high commission and Germany’s ambassador were apologetic due to tight ministerial schedules.
So it was left to Argentina and the Dutch, two favourites to lift the women’s title…
The Hockey Paper: Both nations unfortunately failed to make it out of the football World Cup group stages. How important is it for the women’s hockey team to do well as a response?
Argentine Ambassador Carlos Sersale di Cerisano: There is no relation between them. For our national hockey team, doing well in terms of results and playing well is something that has weight on its own. They always play to win independently of what happens in other sports.
Dutch Ambassador, Mr Simon Smits: Let’s first of all establish that the Dutch women’s football team became European Champions last year, beating Sweden in the quarter finals (2-1), England in the semis (3-0) and Denmark in the finals (4-2).
Dutch women are doing incredibly well in sports: in football and hockey, as well as in volleyball, handball and tennis. The Hockey women are the most successful national hockey team of all time, with 10 world titles, nine European Championship titles, six Champions Trophies and three Olympic gold medals under their belt. They are the current world No 1 and the team to beat in this World Cup in London.
Are you or any of the embassy staff expected to attend the Hockey World Cup?
Di Cerisano: Sure, it will be an honour to be at the stadium.
Smits: Absolutely. I will be attending their opening match against Korea on Sunday.
What does hockey mean to you and the Argentine nation as a whole?
Di Cerisano: Diplomacy and sports are interlinked and in the case of Argentina, sport is part of our brand as a country at international level. Domestically, Argentinians follow every sport when our national teams play overseas. In the case of hockey, the women’s team has a history that is very much admired around the hockey world.
In the case of the men they are the Olympic champions, what else you can say. We are proud of it. Regarding what it means to me? I’m proud of them, I enjoy watching them play and I am very emotional for the passion they put on the pitch as a team and individually. This is an extraordinary, professional group of girls.
Smits: Hockey is the second most popular team sport in the Netherlands after football. More than 250,000 people are playing hockey at 322 hockey clubs throughout the country, while the three young princesses, daughters of our King and Queen, also play. And both the national teams, women and men, have a very rich, successful history.
Do you know how many fans are coming over or attending the hockey World Cup?
Di Cerisano: We will see at the Olympìc Park on July 22. London is a wonderful and very attractive city. I am sure that coming to London is an additional reason to come to support our national hockey team.
Smits: The Dutch fans can’t be missed. We like to show our support for Oranje, by dressing up in orange. I hope to see lots of support for our hockey women, the best squad in the world. Around 1170 tickets have been sold in the Netherlands before the tournament, while England Hockey expects a very high proportion of Dutch fans and hockey players living in London to be attending.