Friday, August 19, 2022

Hockey World Cup diary: Does a co-hosted women’s event work?

While The Hockey Paper is covering the Wagener Stadium matches, the feeling has been a disjointed one as to what is going on 1,600 kms to the south. 

We will be reporting on how this World Cup came to be, but for now it has been difficult to really keep tabs on matches, teams, colour and stories from action in Spain – unless we had a team on the ground in Terrassa as well.

There has been no way to watch (legally) all the games here in the Netherlands unless you had a subscription, while the Dutch matches are on Ziggo Sport. In the press centre, the Terrassa games haven’t been readily available to watch either.

If you wait 24 hours you can view the highlights on the FIH YouTube channel (due to broadcasting rights). But this is a frankly mindboggling deal for the sport. The FIH have instead posted viral worthy clips across its platforms, which have gone down well.

However, the full package on how to promote the sport in an age where sports are increasingly fighting for sponsorship and eyeballs against the big beasts, has sadly been missing here.

The World Cup is being hosted in Spain and the Netherlands PIC: WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT RODRIGO JARAMILLO

One thing’s for sure, we are seeing Maria Granatto light up the Women’s World Cup before she graces the fields of HC Bloemendaal next season. For now, her unerring skill and stick magic in the circle is scorching our summer. 

We will have to wait until next Wednesday to find out what she has in store on quarter-final night, where either England or Korea will be the opponent. But for now, let’s feast on the 27-year-old’s wizardry.

Commentator’s curse

Nick Irvine is behind the microphone for the Women’s Worl Cup games in Amsterdam and the voice of hockey has his work cut out in this tournament. Originally Alyson Annan was set to be the colour No 2 voice before taking up the China job, then Eva de Goede was set in stone before her miracle comeback to the team. So he has been working overtime to fill the void, which has included stints with England’s Flora Peel, currently injured with a broken thumb. 

THP bumped into Nick this week as he sported an Asian-looking addition to his accreditation. It was a good luck charm which, he says, warded off Covid and mosquitoes.

Vigil victorious

Whatever the outcome for Chile, we will remember Sergio Vigil. He first came to THP’s attention when the Chileans came over to Lee Valley for the Olympic qualifiers in 2019 which also saw his pal Leeds United coach Marcelo Bielsa travel down to watch and give the Devils a pep talk.

After Chile had caused the upset of the tournament by beating Ireland, Vigil scrolled through his phone to reveal some audio notes from Bielsa wishing the team well and some congratulatory messages. 

AMSTERDAM 2022 Women’s World Cup Spain & Netherlands 19 Netherlands v Chile (Pool A) Picture: Constanza Palma in pre match huddle. WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK

Their story is, of course, heightened by the fact that they are all amateurs, barring Manuela Urroz, who is semi-pro alongside her work as a lawyer. A deep run here and their stock will be raised back in Santiago. 

Foreign fields spark Martin

Hannah Martin won her 100th combined England and Great Britain cap in the win over China. She did so after a season spent at THC Hurley, just a few minutes’ stroll from the Wagener Stadium. 

“The girls were amazing at Hurley, the level was so high and being challenged week in week out was great for my hockey,” she revealed. “I couldn’t speak more highly of the experience. It was great to see another side of the hockey game, a lot of give and go.”

Martin, the only foreigner in the team, said that she was inspired by Marente Barentsen for “her world ethic and how much she gives to the game on and off the ball.”

She added: “I do feel like I have rounded and matured more as a player. I took on a leadership role at the club, even aged 27, and it was a brilliant experience.”

1 COMMENT

  1. I’m not sure the FIH have made the best of their accounts – the watchdothockey Twitter (less than 2000 followers…) has done the best work in respect of sharing video clips and gifs (the shareable stuff, basically), but the main FIH account (circa 112,000 followers) hasn’t shared as much, especially in game. Plenty of time to promote those damned NFTs though (*barf*).

    No issue with a co-hosted World Cup – albeit the geographical spread is admittedly odd (not exactly ‘green’ for teams to potentially have to fly from one venue to the other…), as is the inability of those people covering it to easily keep track of what’s going on at the other venue.

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