The historic English city of Nottingham is preparing to host one of the most important events of the international hockey calendar, with the 2010 Samsung FIH Champions Trophy for women beginning this Saturday. The tournament will feature six of the world’s finest teams, and promises to be hugely exciting for spectators in the venue and television viewers around the world.
The nations positioned from one to four in the ABN AMRO World Rankings will all be present, with The Netherlands, Argentina, China and Germany being joined in the line-up by New Zealand and host nation England. Nottingham Highfields Sports Centre – the home of Euro Hockey League competitors Beeston HC – is certain to provide a superb venue for the tournament thanks to their world class playing surface and a spectator capacity of over 3000 people. It is the first time that England has ever hosted a women’s Champions Trophy event, with the tournament being the first major international hockey competition to be played on English soil since the 2007 EuroHockey Nations Championships.
All six of the teams that will be competing in the tournament will also feature in the BDO FIH World Cup, which takes place in the Argentinean city of Rosario at the end of August. A strong performance at the Samsung Champions Trophy from any of the teams will give them great confidence ahead of that particular event.The Netherlands
are currently the world’s number one side, and will surely be considered as favourites to win the title. The Olympic Gold medallists from Beijing 2008 have a wonderful team full of attacking flair and defensive strength, with star players including strikers Ellen Hoog and Naomi van As, who was named 2009 WorldHockey Player of the Year alongside Luciana Aymar of Argentina. They also have arguably the world’s finest female penalty corner expert in Maartje Paumen, a player who tore up the record books with a stunning 11 goal haul at the Beijing Olympics. They are lead by experienced captain Janneke Schopman who is fast closing in on 200 international appearances, whilst Minke Smeets should pass the 300 mark during this tournament.
If The Netherlands are favourites, then Argentina
are surely not far behind. The world number two ranked nation has retained a large number of the squad that claimed bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and is aiming to peak over the next two months both in Nottingham and Rosario. The brilliant Luciana Aymar is still the heartbeat of “Las Leonas”, with the six times WorldHockey Player of the Year looking to inspire her team to a double glory. Argentina has won the last two women’s Champions Trophy events, and certainly possesses a team capable of making it three in a row, a fact proven by their recent defeat of The Netherlands in the Rabo Trophy.
Like Argentina, Olympic Silver Medallists China
has a team packed with experienced top class internationals. Team captain Fu Baorong is a striker with pace and power and a true goal scorers instinct, while Ma Yibo is a tough tackling defender who provides a massive threat from penalty corners. 23-year-old Song Qingling is another outstanding talent in a squad that contains 13 players under the age of 25.
The fourth best team in the world rankings is Germany
, who will be looking to win their first Champions Trophy since Amsterdam in 2006. The team enters the tournament without the talents of Fanny Rinne and Anke Kühn, but is still a side with exceptional ability. The evergreen Natascha Keller – one of the true greats of the modern game – will lead the front line, bringing over 350 caps worth of international experience to the forward line. Keller, goalkeeper Barbera Vogel and team captain Tina Bachman are the only players over the age of 30, as Germany coach Michael Behrmann continues to develop a team for the future.
Host nation England
is ranked seventh in the world, but certainly should not be under-estimated. The team has two world class defenders in the shape of Crista Cullen and team captain Kate Walsh, while a glittering array of exciting young players are beginning to make themselves known on the world stage. Teenage midfielder Georgie Twigg and goalkeeper Gemma Ible are the latest recruits to Danny Kerry’s squad as the team builds towards a strong showing at the London 2012 Olympics. The expectant home supporters will be hoping that England can upset the form book by claiming a home triumph next Sunday. New Zealand
– playing in their first Champions Trophy event since Amsterdam 2006 – is another team blessed with youthful exuberance. The side has ten players under the age of 25, while their squad contains just two players who have reached the 100 cap mark – defender Emily Naylor and midfielder Stacey Carr. Despite their relative lack of experience, the Black Sticks have a competitive edge that ensures that they are not a team that should be taken lightly. New Zealand is coached by former Australian international Mark Hager, who guided his team to a third place finish at the recent Rabo Trophy event. That was achieved by a 3-2 victory over China, a side positioned six places above them in the world rankings.
The Samsung Champions Trophy gets underway at 11.05 (local time - GMT) on Saturday, with Olympic Silver medallists China taking on the mighty Germany. That match is followed by the opening ceremony of the tournament before host nation England face the in-form Argentina at 14.05. The final match of the day is a meeting between the highest and lowest ranked teams in the tournament, as Olympic champions The Netherlands do battle with New Zealand at 16.35.
As well as the Samsung Champions Trophy for Women, Nottingham Highfields will also be playing host to a men’s Four Nations tournament featuring 2008 Olympic champions Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand and Japan.
The FIH has launched a special tournament microsite which will be bringing you extensive coverage of all the action from the women’s tournament Nottingham. The site will provide all official information and news from the tournament, keeping you fully up-to-date with the latest scores and league tables. The site will also include full written match previews and reports, flash quotes for media, stunning action photos, video interviews and much more. For more information, please visit http://www.samsungchampionstrophy2010.sportcentric.com/
For information regarding ticket sales for the event, please visit www.wct2010.com