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Page last updated at 08:29 GMT, Friday, 9 July 2010 09:29 UK

Nottingham plays host to hockey's elite


Richardson relishing playing for home crowd

By Sam Edwards
BBC Blast reporter

Beeston manager Graham Griffiths says staging the Champions Trophy and Four Nations tournament could be the biggest event for English hockey in 25 years.

The nine-day extravaganza, which starts on Saturday, 10 July, sees 10 of the best teams in men's and women's world hockey descend on Nottingham.

Griffiths told BBC Radio Nottingham: "This is sensational for hockey.

"This is going to be fantastic and probably the best event we have held in this country for 25 years."

Griffiths was passionate about bringing the Champions Trophy to the Highfield Sports Ground in Nottingham once England Hockey confirmed it had secured the right to host the event for the first time.

"We put a very strong bid in, and actually this is probably the best site in the country for hockey," Griffiths said.

With the Olympics only two years away, this is a massive profile for hockey in England

Graham Griffiths

"There's been a massive construction around here, it's almost continental, it's fantastic.

"We've been working with England Hockey for a very long time now and this is it coming to fruition."

Nottingham-born Reading centre-half Helen Richardson is part of the England squad for the Champions Trophy and she is looking forward to returning to play in front of a 'home' crowd.

She told BBC East Midlands Today: "It feels like home. I used to come down here when I was seven or eight and seeing what they've done here is amazing. It looks like it will be an exciting tournament.

"Hopefully we will get loads of people down and it will be a really good crowd and atmosphere."

And Richardson believes it is also the perfect way for the English players in the Great Britain side to prepare for the London Olympics in 2012.

"It's a tournament you want to be playing in because every game will be a tough game against one of the world's best teams," she said.

"Our overall goal is to get to London and win that gold medal and if we want to do that we have to take small steps along the way.

"If we get into the top four that will be a very good achievement but we will be pushing to get into that final as well and that is something we think we are capable of doing.

"We want to be pushing those top teams and we have to be pushing the top teams."

Nottingham joins Berlin, Amsterdam and Sydney as cities which have hosted the women's competition.

England, the Netherlands, China, Germany, New Zealand and defending champions Argentina all meet in the group stages before a three-game play-off which culminates with the final, on Sunday, 18 July.

Running alongside this, the men's Four Nations is also being hosted by the Nottinghamshire-based hockey club, making for a feast of hockey action.

Great Britain, New Zealand, Japan and Germany will battle it out for the title and Griffiths believes this is great news for English hockey.

"With the Olympics only two years away, this is a massive profile for hockey in England," he said.

"These are the top athletes in the world, who are in Nottingham playing hockey.

"The main thing for us is just promoting what we can actually do here. We have worked very closely with the city council, the county council and East Midlands Development Agency on this project."

Cullen eager to make most of home support

Twenty six matches are due to take place over the nine days and Beeston Hockey Club hope to welcome 30,000 spectators through the gates.

"On the second week, which we call Super Saturday, we are nearly sold out," claims Griffiths.

"There are five games on that day so it's a fantastic day out. There is plenty going on besides the hockey too.

"The first Saturday is actually a family Saturday, so I think you can actually bring your children and get them in for nothing."

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see also
Hockey on the BBC
17 Aug 07 |  Hockey
Crista Cullen's guide to hockey
07 Aug 08 |  Hockey
Basic rules of hockey
05 Oct 05 |  Hockey
Beeston prepare for Europe return
22 Oct 09 |  Hockey

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