Watching the 5th / 6th place play off at the Hockey Champions League trophy 2016 at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Sunday was not the game I, or anyone else, had envisioned watching the GB hockey ladies playing in when I bought tickets for the “Finals” day. However, after a tricky tournament for the girls, a sense of pride kicked in, a fire was ignited and there was a unity back on the pitch that had just been slightly off kilter the previous week.
This game was by far the most exciting of the day, watching the two teams, GB v New Zealand, battle out in a repeat of the London 2012 Bronze Medal match. (That I was also present at!) The score line increasing and balancing out continuously, into the 4th quarter at 3-3, it really was a case of Who Dares Wins!
From my previous post you may remember I wanted to capture a photo of Alex Danson on the ball… And I had many attempts as Danson was on fire. Creating space, making perfect leads, a dribbling dream as she managed to find the back of the net, not once, not twice and even after a brief spell where we thought the GK had knocked her out, she came back to score the most amazing goal in an exciting one on one with the NZ keeper for a sizzling hatrick of goals, and the winner.
From a personal point of view (and I have been known to see things differently to everyone else!) I think this tournament will have helped us on the road to Rio…. It’s identified areas to strengthen, set plays to work on (and we saw some incredible penalty corners emerging), players personal responsibility and showed some superb displays of courage, fight, resilience and a never say die attitude. And we have time to learn and build on this. I truely believe the girls needed a tournament like this to build. And I absolutely genuinely believe they will go to Rio with an ignition that will take them far… Very far! (I’ve already put a bet on for the Gold Medal – just putting it out there.) Everybody wants to win the Gold Medal, for most teams this is only aspirational, but following these girls journeys from Beijing in 2008 and their growth and development after London 2012, their dream can and has a real opportuniy to be realised.
As selection draws closer, I want to thank each and every one of the girls in the squad for all their hard work, grit, perseverance and determination. It will be heart breaking not to be selected, but they should know that it will ultimately be because squad numbers are restricted and not because they have not given their all. There is no-one in that squad who hasn’t given everything, and we as fans have enjoyed every second of supporting your journey. From personal battles of injury and rehab to squad battles, following the World Cup, it’s been a hell of a ride! We love you and we support you! Always! And whatever the result, we know you’ll give your all and we will have seen you leave it all on the pitch!