I had to play in goal for field hockey once. Admittedly it was at school and we were playing it for the first time but nevertheless it was certainly and experience. While I didn’t have the body armour of the professional player, I had fielding gloves and cricket pads as I remember, the difficulty was incredible, and I think that even if I was armoured and helmeted it would have made very little difference. No amount of Hockey Training drills would have helped me even if I had religiously watched them. This is why I have the utmost respect and admiration for Maddie Hinch. Until recently she was the England international and Team GB Olympic Women field Hockey goal keeper. While she may only be five foot 6 inches tall, she is a giant of the game and deserves all the credit she receives.
Goal keeping is hard at the best of times but when you add in a grilled helmet, knee to feet pads, arm guards and a hockey stick it’s certainly made even harder. As the rock-hard hockey ball can travel up to 70 miles per hour if its hit at speed then this is essential, and it also means that saving such a shot is extremely difficult. Into this seemingly impossible tasked world was one Madeleine Hinch. It was her skill in the game Rounders that first got her noticed. She was extremely agile and adapt with her diving and catching abilities that her school teacher realised that she was a natural for the position of goal keeper and began to move her towards the sport. The young Maddie was not to enamoured with this and her commitment was not quite there. She also had to take a few rejections before deciding to really work at her game. Her dedication paid off and she gained a place in the Youth Olympic Games winning a medal not knowing that a senior one was to come years later. From 2014 she was the first pick for the team.
A famous penalty save in the 2015 EuroHockey Championships, giving England the victory, was seen has her coming f age and it also bode well for the next challenge, the 2016 Olympic games in Rio. It was Hinches first and she did not disappoint. In a lesson that English Football teams could learn (and have after successfully getting through one finally against Columbia in Russia 2018) Mad Dog’s notebook, a comprehensive study of every single way the Dutch players took and placed their penalties, meant that in the shootout to decide the Gold she saved all four penalty attempts by the Netherlands players. They only got one past her. Ironic that she was joining Stichtse Cricket en Hockey Club of Utrect in the Netherlands.
She is still playing for SCHC but has retired form international hockey for a awhile. She also works on encouraging kids into hockey with her academy for hockey goal keeping skills. That MBE is well deserved.