By Richard Bright
After 48 hours of World Cup hockey wonder, a rest day was handed out on Monday for us all to recover.
And if the opening two days are anything to go by, hockey’s exposure is set to run as the women’s game was given a huge shot in the arm.
England’s opening game against India attracted plenty of reportage on Sunday as their home World Cup finally kicked off after the association’s winning bid in 2013.
“Before a capacity 10,000 crowd, many of them encouraged by memories of Great Britain’s victory at the 2016 Olympics, England always looked the more positive of the two teams in their opening Pool B fixture, but they were unable to make their superiority pay,” wrote The Sunday Times.
“This is a radically different squad from the one that triumphed on that unforgettable night in Rio, with both Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh and also the stalwart Christa Cullen having retired, leaving the defence lacking its former solidity and composure.”
In the Sunday Telegraph, the 2018 World Cup was contrasted with the 1986 men’s World Cup, which saw multiple fans pass through the turnstiles.
“During that balmy October, 90,000 spectators passed through the turnstiles at a dressed-up stadium in Willesden as hockey relegated Match of the Day to the sidelines with Sean Kerly and company’s tournament run.
“Now, 100,000 tickets had been sold before Germany and South Africa even opened proceedings yesterday at the first women’s World Cup to be held on home soil. Welcome to the revolution.”
The Observer, meanwhile, focused on Lily Owsley as she returned from four months out to score the all-important equaliser.
— FIH Italia (@FIH_Italia) July 22, 2018
“Six years ago Lily Owsley was watching inside the Olympic Park when Team GB won bronze in the women’s hockey event and further garlanded a glittering, gleaming summer for British sport,” the paper stated. “Now she may have played her part in continuing a similar feelgood factor, this time wearing an England shirt, and the intervention could hardly have been more timely.”
On the sidelines
The Mail on Sunday reported that Sophie Bray will ‘crack on’, said coach Danny Kerry, after she was thought to be the player involved in a pre-tournament car crash.
Kerry, without revealing the name of the player involved, said last week that his plans had been hampered after a squad member received whiplash in a car crash on the M4.
Elsewhere, in The Guardian, Rani was profiled ahead of the England clash, in a revealing story headlined: ‘My parents refused to let me play hockey because I was a girl’
‘Magnificent’ and ‘Famous’ were just two of the adjectives to describe Ireland’s win over the USA.
It was heralded as a surprise result given the ranking order, but Ireland looked far from being an outsider as they took to the field in a World Cup for the first time in 16 years.
The biggest game in their careers to date, wrote the Irish Times, saw Ireland’s women produce their biggest performance as Deirdre Duke’s breakaway double sent Ireland to the top of their World Cup group in London.
Italian media was quick to get on board with the Azzurris first World Cup success, highlighting an historic success – and a potential quarter-final berth – as the men watch from the sidelines.
Luckily it came a few hours before an Italian won The Open Championship at Carnoustie, giving enough time for word to spread on breaking 42 years in the hockey World Cup wilderness.
‘Fabulous Italy’ ran La Gazetta’s headline.
Paula Ortiz’s goal later helped Argentina to break free from Spain in their opening 6-2 win.
Leading Argentine daily La Nacion profiled Ortiz’s rise, including the fact that the gifted young player did not even know about hockey until she went to get some photographs developed.
To end a super opening 48 hours in London, Belgium then lost out to New Zealand as the Kiwis showed their Commonwealth gold status against the rising European nation.
If you’re a follower of Belgium hockey, head on over to Le Soir, where the newspaper has tied up with Hockey Belgium to provide year-round media coverage of the sport.
“We decided before the tournament not to be too greedy. And not to be frustrated if we lost to the Black Sticks,” Raes told the paper.