An insight into the 2018 England Masters World Cup Selection Process

We know its been awhile since the end of the EXIN Masters World Cup 2018 in Terrassa in Spain but we wanted to find out how you get to become a ‘Hockey Master’ so we asked and thankfully someone responded. We really appreciate Rachel Ferguson putting this together for us… We found it very interesting because she outlined the process and also put together match reports for us.

The Process

In 2017 England Hockey announced that they would be entering an England O35 Women’s Team in the 2018 Masters World Cup. Players aged from 34 (turning 35 in the year of the competition) to 39 were invited to apply to trial to represent the England O35 Team. The application involved detailing your playing history and providing a referee who could be contacted to verify the information you had provided. As a result of the applications around 100 people were invited to attend an initial trial.

After the initial trial around 40 people were taken forward to a second trial and 25 to the final trial. All of the trials took a similar format whereby each individual was allocated to a team for the day and wore a coloured and numbered bib. The majority of exercises were focussed around small and large sided games with a view to giving people ample opportunity to play in their preferred positions and demonstrate their skills to the selection panel.

After the final squad of 18 was selected the team met to discuss their goal for the tournament. A unanimous decision was that the team wanted to win gold and a plan was put in place with head coach, Gareth Ikin and manager, Kate Garman to achieve this. In the run up to the tournament each squad member was given a fitness plan and was encouraged to share ‘sweat snaps’ after training sessions to create a team spirit and encourage each other to make fitness a priority. The team also met for 6 training days where game play, short corners and team spirit were very much the focus.

The team that was selected was a real eclectic mix of individuals from many different sporting backgrounds. There were people, like myself, who were still on maternity leave who were looking to return to top flight hockey, mixed with a former Olympian and people who had never played in a major tournament but the team came together to focus on a common goal and seemed to gel right from the get go which is a real testament to the selection panel and to the leadership provided by Gareth and captain Jo Ellis.

On 25 July the squad left the UK to travel to Spain where we would play 7 games in 10 days in our pursuit of World Cup glory. The set up in Terrassa was fantastic with 7 water based pitches being available for games. Teams had the ability to book ice baths and massages to help with recovery and there were numerous swimming pools that could be used at the sites. It is worth noting that to play in the Masters World Cup is completely self-funded and there is an awareness that this can prove a barrier to some people being able to play. The aim is to start looking at how sponsorship could help improve the programme and if anyone has any ideas on this it would be great to get some feedback.

Our team decided to stay together as a squad (many other teams stay with their families). This meant that we were able to easily facilitate team meetings, video sessions, stretches, ice baths, massages and acupuncture sessions! It also meant that the team could bond and that no team members felt excluded. Given that the tournament was 10 days long we also had plenty of opportunities to spend time with our friends and family who had travelled to support us.

Our first game was against the USA which we won 4-0. This gave us the opportunity to ease into the tournament and build our confidence. We played a further three consecutive games against Ghana, Sri Lanka and, the hosts, Spain which all resulted in further wins before we were able to have two rest days to recover. The conditions were relentless as the temperatures exceeded 40 degrees on the pitch. This meant that all of the 18 players in the squad had broadly equal pitch time and played a big part in our success.

After our rest period we had two big games against Australia and New Zealand which would decide whether we would make the World Cup final. When we faced Australia we were the only two unbeaten sides left in the tournament. This resulted in a very close game which we narrowly won 2-1. This meant we would be playing in the final regardless of our result against New Zealand.

The final meant we would face Australia for a second time. Since I was a child I have always dreamt of what it would be like to have the opportunity to play tennis at Wimbledon or sink that final putt on the 18th hole at Augusta and to have the opportunity to sing the national anthem alongside your teammates at a World Cup final is incredibly special and something I will treasure for the rest of my life. I am proud to say that the occasion didn’t get the better of us and we beat Australia 1-0 in the final to be crowned champions. I have never felt such a mixture of pride, relief, exhaustion and elation as I did when I heard the final whistle.

The team will now spend some time away with their respective clubs. Details of the trials for the 2019 European Cup, which are to be held in autumn 2018, will be released shortly. I would urge people who are considering attending to do so. When I started this journey I wanted to show my family, friends and colleagues that it is ok to put yourself out there as you get older to try something and to potentially fail. I think that sometimes the fear of failure can stop us from reaching our true potential. But when you put yourself out of your comfort zone the rewards can be so much better. To represent your country and win a World Cup is an incredible honour and privilege and I hope it inspires others to take each and every new opportunity that comes their way.

 

The Campaign

England v USA

England women’s over 35s opened their World Cup campaign with a convincing win against the USA. The game started at a high tempo despite the 30-degree heat. England took the lead with Rebecca Ross scoring a reverse stick shot from a short corner rebound in the first quarter. The game remained 1-0 at half time after some strong defensive play from the USA and a decisive save from Sarah Ellis in goal for England.  England scored a second goal through Jo Ellis 42 seconds after the restart before Sarah Daley added a third with a fantastic reverse stick shot. Rebecca Ross sealed the result with her second goal two minutes from time. England take on Sri Lanka today at 4.30.

 

England v Sri Lanka

England 35s women continued their World Cup campaign with a convincing 10-0 win against Sri Lanka. England started the scoring in the first quarter with Jo Ellis being set up for a reverse stick shot by Katie Miller. Three more goals followed in the first quarter through Nic George, Yvette Van Yperen and a further for Jo Ellis. The second quarter saw further goals through Yvette Van Yperen and Nic George. The third quarter saw some resilient defending from the Sri Lankan team and a penalty stroke saved by the Sri Lankan goalkeeper. England sealed the victory late on with goals from Lizzy Wheelhouse, Sarah Cockayne and Vikki Gill. Nic George also found the back of the net to claim her hat trick.

 

England v Spain

England Womenʼs o35 continued their unbeaten run and went top of the table with a 3-0 win against the host nation Spain. The game was hotly contested in the first half with strong defending from both teams to leave the game scoreless at half time. England broke the deadlock in the third quarter through Rebecca Ross. Spain pressurised the England defence for the remainder of the third quarter in search of an equaliser but were denied by the saves of Sarah Ellis. In the fourth quarter England added a further ‘wonder goal from Jo Ellis who took the ball from the halfway line and fired it into the net. The final goal was added by Laura Collins who swept in a decisive cross from Sarah Daley. England now have two rest days before facing Australia on Friday.

 

England v Australia

England o35 Women continued their unbeaten run and secured a place in the World Cup final with a 2-1 win against Australia today. The game started at a high tempo and after a run of short corners Australia conceded a penalty stroke in the first quarter which was scored by Jo Ellis to give the advantage to England. At the break, the score remained at 1-0. England added a second in the third quarter when a strong attacking run by Jo Ellis ended with Nathalie Boyd firing the ball in the net. Australia pressurised the England defence in the fourth quarter and managed to put away a consolidation goal. England now face New Zealand before the final on Sunday.

England v Australia (Final)

England women became the first o35 World Champions with a 1-0 victory over Australia in the 2018 Masters World Cup hosted in Terrassa. The game started at a high tempo with England dominating in the early stages of the game. The only goal of the game came in the second quarter when Nic George deflected the ball into the net. In the second half Australia pressurised, in search of an equaliser, which forced Jen Pritchard to make a goal line save at shoulder height. England showed some resilient defence and professionalism to keep a clean sheet for the fifth time over the course of the tournament. Captain Jo Ellis was also awarded top goal scorer with six goals in six games.

 

The 2018 World Cup Masters Squad

Jo Ellis (c)

Sarah Ellis

Sarah Cockayne

Jenny Pritchard

Rachel Ferguson

Katie Miller

Laura Collins

Rebecca Ross

Nic George

Lizzy Wheelhouse

Sarah Daley

Gemma Carswell

Lizzie Mclintock

Nathalie Boyd

Louise Cassey

Vikki Gill

Yvette Van Yperen

Hannah Rockliff

Jenny Ladley

 

An article by Rachel Ferguson