Thursday, June 13, 2024

Hockey World Cup: I won’t set world alight but I value my role, says England’s Shona McCallin

Terrassa — Midway through the Olympic qualifiers seven years ago in Valencia, Spain, GB women had a day off and recovery session at a local indoor pool. Buddy Holly was playing over the speakers, elderly locals were enjoying a water aerobics class and the pool attendant was castigating me for not wearing a swim cap. Yes, this correspondent was doing lengths at the time.

In single file down the 50m pool deck entered the GB team. Laughter emanated around the venue as they used their floats and noodles. There was a good-time feel to the morning’s proceedings. Days later the week ended with the team doing a victory jig on the Valencia pitch as they qualified for Rio.

Different team, different era for the class of 2022 at this World Cup, of course, but England went to a local pool here on their Monday rest day and are building their own momentum as they adapted from Amsterdam to the heat of Terrassa. We saw the goals from Giselle Ansley, the twisting and turning of Tess Howard and the high press for England’s final two goals. But delve deeper and at the heart lies the work and control of Shona McCallin, England’s unflappable and highly-skilled midfielder.

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