The World Awaits

The England Hockey women are now entering the final few days ahead of what for many will be the biggest tournament of their fledgling international careers.

England women celebrate their bronze medal victory in the 2010 Samsung FIH Champions Trophy in Nottingham

Having finished an excellent third at the Samsung FIH Champions Trophy in Nottingham in July, captain Kate Walsh and her teammates are embarking on the second of their three major tournaments this year and have now settled into their surroundings in Rosario in Argentina.

Eight members of the 2010 squad played four years ago in Madrid when England finished seventh, leaving ten players for whom the World Cup will be their biggest international competition to date.  In Spain in 2006, England won two and drew two of their Pool A matches, suffering just the one defeat, going down 1-0 to the Netherlands.  The results meant England finished third in the pool and played off against Japan and then Germany in classification matches for fifth to eighth.  A 2-0 defeat to Japan was followed by a 2-1 victory over Germany for seventh.

Speaking from the team’s hotel in Argentina, Team Manager Hilary Rose, herself a former England and Great Britain goalkeeper, explained how much the squad is looking forward to Sunday’s opening match against Spain: “We've trained at the stadium and it is going to be amazing when all the seats are filled - very noisy, but a great experience for all the girls!”

Danny Kerry, the England women's head coach, answers questions during a press conferenceHead Coach Danny Kerry (pictured right) has previously said he expects Spain to be the second best supported team in the Argentina such are the cultural and historical links between Spain and the host country. 
England have not met Spain since a two match test series in Nottingham in June 2009 but they will be wary of their opponents, whom they have since leapfrogged in the world rankings but who finished fourth on home turf four years ago.  In Nottingham, the sides drew 1-1 before England won 3-1 in the second fixture.

In preparation for Sunday’s fixture against the side ranked eighth in the world, England’s players have taken part in a couple of practice sessions at the stadium and, according to Rose, “are managing to entertain themselves on the 50 minute bus rides back and forth to the pitches - boredom has not set in just yet!” 

Alex Danson in action for England women at the Samsung FIH Champions Trophy, Nottingham 2010Far from it.  One person particularly looking forward to Sunday will be Reading forward Alex Danson (right) who is in line to win her 100th cap for England in the match.  The experienced number 15 is just 25 years old but has already represented her country at two World Cups, four European Championships and two Champions Trophy tournaments as well as the 2008 Olympic Games.  In her 99 England appearances she has found the back of the net on 22 occasions and would surely give anything for goal number 23 against Spain.

Beyond three points on Sunday, the target for the young English side is a semi final berth – an outcome that will be a significant achievement considering they must overcome the triple Champions Trophy winning hosts Argentina, Olympic silver medalists China, 2006’s fourth placed side Spain, Korea, who are a relatively unknown side, and South Africa.

England's World Cup Fixtures

Date Fixture Local Time UK Time
Sunday 29 August Spain v England 17:00 21:00
Tuesday 31 August China v England 14:30 18:30
Thursday 2 September England v Korea 17:00 21:00
Saturday 4 September England v South Africa 14:30 18:30
Monday 6 September Argentina v England 19:30 23:30
Thursday 9 September Classification/Semi Finals
Friday 10 September Classification Matches
Saturday 11 September Medal Matches

World Cup Previews

Prior to departing for the World Cup, Reading’s Helen Richardson spoke to the BBC about the confidence the team took from the Champions Trophy and the group’s aims for Rosario. 

And just as the squad was landing in Argentina, Rich Beer, who co-manages the team alongside Hilary Rose, was chatting on BBC Radio Oxford about England’s World Cup prospects and all things hockey.  If you want to hear what he had to say click here and cycle forward to 02:09:20 in the show.

The International Hockey Federation has written its own preview of the tournament, which you can read on the official tournament microsite.

Follow England Hockey at the World Cup

As ever, the England Hockey website is just one of the places to follow England’s progress.  There will be match reports, previews and photographs throughout the tournament on the homepage and in the international results section here.

Twitter LogoYou can also engage with us through our Twitter account - @EnglandHockey – through which we’ll be chatting during England matches with special guest Tweets from the likes of Sally Munday, England Hockey Chief Executive.

Just as during the Men’s Champions Trophy earlier this month, Laola1.tv will be streaming the tournament live online at http://www.laola1.tv/ so you can watch England wherever you have an internet connection.

Live television coverage of England's World Cup games will be provided by Zee Cafe, Sky channel 846.  This will run as its normal paid-for subscription service for England's opening game against Spain but from Tuesday 31 August Zee Cafe will be Free to Air in order to showcase the hockey.  So you will be able to see England's games against China, Korea, South Africa and Argentina on TV for free.

The BBC Sport website will have highlights and reports from England’s matches here.  If England make it to the final four then look out for further announcements about possible red button coverage.