Monday, August 15, 2022

Women’s Hockey World Cup: ‘You either rise up to pressure or shy away from it’

Holly Hunt, one of four players experiencing their first major tournament, is fast learning the pressures of how to handle a debut Hockey World Cup.

There are nine England women in total playing the sport’s showpiece event, a mix of experience and youth in Fiona Crackles, Sabbie Heesh, Tess Howard, Shona McCallin, Izzy Petter and Hunt, who first played for GB in 2019. 

She was first selected to play for England in January, debuting against Argentina the following month and scoring her first international goal for good measure.

“It’s about the pressure of each game and trying not to let that get to you,” she said. “It’s taking the emotion out of the game. 

“You know there is pressure but it’s whether you rise up to it and apply it or shy away from it.

“We have all grown up playing hockey, the game we love and when you enjoy it and the occasion, you play your best.”

The one-off Pro League games are one thing, the group stages and tournament hockey another – a scenario which several of the more established England stars are well versed in, from The Hague to London 2018.

“The senior players have spoken beforehand of treating it as any other game,” Hunt added. “We know that if we play well, it is when we are all on the same page.”

AMSTERDAM 2022 Women’s World Cup Spain & Netherlands 08 England v India (Pool B) Picture: Holly Hunt WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK

That came to the fore against China in their last group game. “The backline was so solid, stepping in and outletting well,” added Hunt, of Hampstead & Westminster.

“We worked really well, everyone from the forward line to the back worked hard to get back into defence and play together as a unit. 

“We used all our energy from the New Zealand defeat. Even when it’s tough we can apply ourselves.”

England will play Korea on Sunday for a place in the World Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.

England No 1 goalkeeper Maddie Hinch said that coach David Ralph has helped the women’s side settle into a structured side.

She said: “Ralphy is inspiring us to believe in one another, to have a sense of freedom, don’t fear things, but also be smart. We can’t have a gung-ho mentality as that’s what’s been hurting us a little bit.

“We are building all the team. And now we are in the hunt for a medal.”

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