Maddie hoping Stoop will capture nation's hockey imagination

Hinch v Germany FIH Pro League
Hockey history will be made as iconic rugby stadium Twickenham Stoop hosts Great Britain’s FIH Pro League double header against New Zealand later this month. 

Following unprecedented demand for tickets, Great Britain Hockey struck an agreement with Harlequins to host men’s and women’s matches back-to-back on Sunday 23 June 2019.  

Ground-breaking technology will see an artificial pitch laid on top of the existing grass surface, meaning twice as many supporters will pack into the Stoop to see the national sides in action. 

“We’re all so excited to play in such a massive stadium,” said GB women’s goalkeeper Maddie Hinch, who saved four penalties in a shootout to help her side earn Olympic gold at Rio 2016. 

“Hockey has been in such a great place since Rio. People know the sport, they play it, they aspire to be like some of my teammates. 

“This is another showcase to get people talking about hockey again.

“There's nothing better than playing at home. For us, it's literally like a 12th man when you've got that crowd roaring everything you do. 

“It just gives you that extra bit of energy, determination, not to just get the win for ourselves as a team but to get the win for the guys that have paid the money to be there and have supported us.

“We will give it everything out there and we're very excited for the prospect of the whole event.

The sport’s exponential growth has seen youth participation grow by 80% since London 2012, with over 110,000 tickets sold for the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup. 

A large number of tickets have already been sold for the 14,800-capacity stadium at the Stoop – although seats are still available – meaning it could be the biggest crowd to watch hockey in Britain since the London 2012 Olympics. 

The men, under Danny Kerry, who led the women to gold at the Rio Games, have performed well in the inaugural tournament. 

They currently sit fifth in the table but are well in the race to reach the Grand Final in The Netherlands at the end of the month and, if results go their way this week, could secure their place with victory on Sunday.

Hinch says the women, who sit eighth in the Pro League, will go all out to end their campaign on a winning note with new coach Mark Hager’s insider knowledge to the fore.

“New Zealand are a fantastic team,” said the GB stopper.  

“They tend to play a really attacking style of play, very fast and quick. We have Mark Hager, who used to coach New Zealand, on our side so that's an interesting scenario. 

“He'll know that team inside out, and they'll know him. It gives the game an extra bit of edge. 

“I'm looking forward to it and I expect end-to-end hockey. I expect the games to be tight, and that's what we want for the fans.

“There will be plenty of goals, hopefully not too many go in the back of our net!”

Great Britain Men and Women face New Zealand in a unique FIH Pro League double-header at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday, 23 June. Tickets still available here.