Mums, Dads, friends, former teachers and coaches were invited to surprise the England women’s hockey team ahead of their Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup campaign on home soil in London.
Those closest to the players were asked present each squad member with their bespoke World Cup kit in a special presentation at the team’s hotel.
The team were addressed by England Hockey CEO Sally Munday and England’s captain from their 1975 World Cup victory, Anita White.
The presentation perfectly shows the values and inspiration behind England Hockey’s #BehindEveryGreatPlayer campaign which celebrates and recognises those people behind the players.
The family, friends, coaches and volunteers whose passion, dedication and emotional support truly fuels success, both as players and people.
#BehindEveryGreatPlayer celebrates the importance of a supportive social network in achieving sporting success, from children trying a sport for the first time through to international athletes playing at the highest level.
Ellie Rayer explained how the morning played out, she said: “We got to Bisham in the morning thinking we are off to the World Cup and said goodbye to Mum and Dad. When we got to our hotel later we were ushered around a bit but didn’t think anything of it.
“Then Sally Munday our CEO came in and said they had some special people in attendance to give us our shirts. Everyone’s parents then walked in and everyone just started crying!”
Anita White captained England when they won the World Cup in 1975 and Ellie is proud to be wearing the same shirt number as Anita in London.
“I was introduced to Anita and I’ll be wearing lucky number 13 just like she did. It’s amazing in all honesty to think they’ve done it before so we can go out there and it is possible.”
Sophie Bray was surprised by her mum and teacher Miss O’Callaghan who first introduced her to hockey, she said: “They see us at our best and worst and help us through the tough times along the way.
“They are always there for you and always say you’re playing well regardless. We can’t thank them enough for all their support.”
Miss O’Callaghan who taught Sophie at Tiffin School said: “It’s been a really emotional morning and great to see Sophie again.
She is no different from the first time I put a hockey stick in her hand and saw what a future she’d have. I could tell you then when she was aged just 11 that she was going to go far.”