With the sixth edition of the FIH Hockey Indoor World Cup set to take place in Belgium early next year, we start to profile the teams that will compete for the title at the intense, action-packed competition that will be played at Country Hall de Liège from 2-6 February 2022.
In the first of our profile series, we speak to USA women’s captain Ali Campbell, who guided her team to glory at the 2021 Indoor Pan American Cup on home soil in Spring City, Pennsylvania to secure their ticket to Liège.
Speaking on the October edition of HockeyPod, the official podcast of the FIH, Campbell – a USA international both indoors and outdoors – talks about her memories of playing in the 2018 Indoor World Cup in Berlin, her delight at winning Pan Am gold in Spring City and her excitement about once again facing the ‘best of the best’ at next year’s showpiece in Belgium.
Ali Campbell - Captain, USA women
Reflections on competing at Indoor World Cup 2018 in Berlin, Germany, where USA finished 10th in their IWC debut event.
“I mean, it was incredible. I’d been on the national outdoor team for a while before retiring and then transitioning back into the indoor game, which is where I really started the growth of my own game, when I was younger. It just felt like a full circle. It was just incredible to be in a country where field hockey is so highly valued and incredible for everyone watching it. It was an experience that I’ll never forget. We just felt so fortunate to be there, because it was our first [Indoor] World Cup appearance, and to compete against the best of the best was like a cherry on top.”
“It really was [wonderful]. We had done all of the prep ahead of time and came a little early to play some test matches against the Czech Republic to really sharpen some things up. We were a younger team, but we also had some experience, being the gold medallists at the Pan Ams. Playing teams like Argentina, Canada and the rest of the Pan Am nations was a huge opportunity for us to grow and be prepared for an event like this.”
Thoughts on the team’s superb title winning display at the 2021 Indoor Pan American Cup on home soil in Pennsylvania.
“It was a completely different team [from 2018], except for a few of us older gals. It was an experience like no other, especially with the covid regulations and not having any fans. But being able to be on American soil and being able to win a gold medal was just priceless. I remember my first cap was in America and being able to represent your country and being able to compete and earn opportunities to play, especially when you don’t know now with covid, it was an amazing experience. Being able to compete against the best of the best, just to keep growing each and every game, and learning a lot about ourselves because we were in our own little bubble – we never got sick of each other so that was cool, but it was good for us to learn, grow and be ready for the next step.”
Why teenager Hope Rose, who top scored at Pan Ams with 13 goals (7FG, 5PC, 1PS), could be a player to watch in Liege.
“Hope is an incredible talent. I’ve followed her young career, not just [from my role] as a college coach but also as a fellow athlete. She’s incredibly game aware, able to acknowledge where a defender is coming from and eliminate them, whether by using an elimination skill or by getting a shot ‘on cage’ right away. She is a threat with her drag-flick, especially on an indoor court. I’m just really thankful that she is on my team, so I don’t have to worry about her and worry about where she is at all times!”
On what USA are looking to achieve in Liege
“We want to have the best performance possible. We want to make sure that we are just ready to rumble. We are looking forward to just playing the best of the best again, continuing from the gold medal experience at the Pan Ams, continuing to grow and be a threat to other nations in different ways that maybe they are not used to. So, being able to get down to the nitty-gritty of training in the next couple of months and then getting a few practice tournaments in. We are going to try to shore up our game plan and our progress plan and be ready to attack each game with the best that we can.”
On being an outdoor and indoor international and how the two formats complement each other.
“I just love the game and every aspect of it. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the hotbed of hockey in the United States, which is on the east coast and particularly Pennsylvania, which is where I’m from and currently reside. I was able to access a lot of tools in order to grow my game, and I think that indoor is a really good tool for outdoor. You are able to figure out some things at a lot quicker pace, which means that when you get outdoors you find that you have a lot more space to be able to execute a game plan. I love the speed of indoor, and I love being able to use skills without the 3D skills [seen outdoors]. Outdoor generates the same amount of speed and excitement, but I just love it all. I am just a ‘hockey head’, so embrace all facets [of the sport] and just roll with it.”
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