Monday, September 27, 2010

England players pleasantly surprised by ‘perfect conditions’

The England women’s hockey squad arrived here on Monday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised by the facilities for the athletes at the Commonwealth Games Village. The squad, part of the second batch of English athletes to arrive, checked in around 3 pm and were impressed by what they saw. “We were kind of concerned back home and did not know exactly what to expect. But it’s just perfect out here,” said Beth Storry, the team’s goalkeeper.

News about security concerns and an unfinished Games Village had painted a gloomy picture for these England players. “Our parents were concerned; obviously, with all the news that we were getting back home, it was tough to decide to come. But I have just finished sending an e-mail back home, telling them to relax and not to get worried. Everything is being taken care of. We have absolutely nothing to get worked up about,” Storry said at the Games Village.

She added that the residential blocks were much better than what they expected. “I guess the media back home just went into an overdrive, hyped up things a bit too much. From what we have seen so far - and it isn’t much - things are great, the apartments are spacious and really nice and clean, the dining hall is fantastic; I have no problems whatsoever,” she said.

Team mate and England striker Alex Danson agreed, saying what they have seen was nothing like what they had heard back home. “There was too much of negativity back home in the media and otherwise. But this place is absolutely great,” she said. Danson, who wishes to be a teacher sometime in future and is interested in learning about Sikhism, said she was always interested in coming to India and thought this would have been the perfect opportunity.

“But then all the negative stuff started coming in and there were doubts. But I am glad I didn’t decide to pull out or I would have missed it all,” she said.

Tough to predict

Even though England have just returned with a bronze medal from the World Cup, Storry said it was tough to predict a winner here. “On paper, we can perhaps say that a couple of strong teams are not coming, so the competition may be easy. But it all depends on what happens on that particular day. We can’t forget that India finished ninth at the World Cup but they have a gold and a silver at Commonwealth Games,” she said.

Danson, one of the most experienced English players with over a 100 caps, added that, besides the stadiums and the Village, they hoped to see and experience the local. “This is my first visit to India for almost everyone in our squad. We have a welcome ceremony later in the evening and I hope to get my first look at the Indian culture then,” she said.

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