Why England were so determined to make the nation proud at 2018 World Cup

England Running Out v USA HWC2018
“I can’t imagine in my career necessarily playing in something like that again. It was huge.”

Giselle Ansley knows how special the 2018 Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup was.

Across two glorious weeks, more than 100,000 people packed into the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre to watch 16 of the world’s best teams battle it out for glory.

With a temporary stand doubling the crowd capacity, a dedicated fan village and so much more, England Hockey pulled out all the stops to make it the best possible tournament for fans and players alike.

This was not lost on the English players; if anything, it made them even more determined to go out there and try and lift the World Cup for the first time as a thank you to all those who had made it happen.

Ansley and Ellie Rayer explained just how special a tournament it was in the latest episode of #InsideTheCircle: The Podcast. 

The former said: “We were incredibly grateful for the unbelievable work that went into that.  For us as players we got to experience it and play and do what we love and that was all thanks to the many, many people who had worked tirelessly for years to make it work.

“When you’ve got people who put that much time and effort into it for us to play there and to experience it, it makes it even more special. We desperately wanted to try and do everyone proud, make England proud as a nation. 

“It’s a tournament that will live long in the memories for all of us.”

Rayer added: “We train for moment and opportunities like that. The amount of work that had gone in behind the scenes to put into the event for us was like ‘wow’. 

“We were soaking up every single second and moment and opportunity that we could because they don’t come around very often. It was such a phenomenal event and such a phenomenal job.”

After months of preparing, the big day of England’s opening game finally came around on Saturday 21 July 2018.

Speaking on the podcast, the duo explained exactly how it felt to leave the tunnel and enter the fray for the first time.

“We ran out with the flames and the fire, the noise. And there had been the #SeeRedWearRed campaign too,” Rayer recalled. 

“It was mind blowing. I tried to take a bit of a look before we ran out of the tunnel, in the warm up trying to sneakily go down and see it so it wasn’t quite so enormous as I ran out on the pitch, so I could soak it all in. 

“The butterflies in my stomach were going mad. It was incredible.”

Ansley added: “We’d spoken about it before, how it was going to be something we hadn’t experienced before. Because we warmed up on the pitch behind you could hear the noise and sort of see it but not very well. 

“We said that if you can sneak down the tunnel and have a little look it might not be such a shock. But even doing that, still I was like ‘woah’. It hit you. 

“It took you back a little bit but then you realised that this was going to be epic. I was so excited, I was like ‘let’s just play because this is so good’.”

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