By Max Hall
England and Wimbledon HC rising star Anna Toman swallowed her disappointment after last night’s World Cup quarter final defeat to the Netherlands to discuss the lasting effects a home tournament can have on the English game.
The wing-back hopes it will be just the beginning of a boom time for the game in this country.
“If you just look at how many fans have come out to watch us, they’ve been unbelievably supportive and they’ve helped us along the way,” the 25-year-old told the South London Press.
“I think again it’s helped to put hockey on the map and shows how many people want to watch it in this country. I think [national governing body] England Hockey, The [World Cup volunteer] Hockey Makers, the crowds, the fans have done an absolutely brilliant job of supporting us out there.”
The home tournament sold out the 10,500-seat Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Stadium for England’s games. The Wimbledon wing-back now has high hopes for plans for the new, global, Pro League competition that will start in January and will feature the world’s best international sides playing each other home and away in a league format.
“The starting point is obviously the Pro League – we’ll hopefully get a lot more people coming along to watch these games, so I think that’s a starting point,” said Toman. “I think more people are interested in these events and we’ve got a good set-up here [in Stratford] for people to come and watch. I think we should start with the Pro League and then hopefully we can start seeing more and more support towards the club system.”
Toman – along with Wimbledon clubmate Suzy Petty – was among the new faces to take part in her first World Cup as part of an England squad built around several of the GB players who won gold in Rio two years ago.
The Wimbledon defender enjoyed a break-out tournament – as noted by Lily Owsley after last night’s 2-0 defeat – but faced her toughest test of the finals, against flying Dutch winger Lidewij Welten, as goals from the Netherlands attacker and Laurien Leurink ended the hosts’ World Cup dream.
“Credit’s due to Holland, they played better than us on the day,” said Toman, “I think their goals came from a few mistakes from us, we tried to stick to our gameplan and kept it tight at the start but unfortunately it didn’t come together for us and they were better.
“We can’t let this moment pass us by, we take moments like this forward. When we get back to [England headquarters] Bisham Abbey we’ll remember these moments and they will make us train extra hard for upcoming tournaments.”
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