Harry Kane has backed a bid that would see Tottenham Hotspur Stadium host the World Cup final of men’s hockey.
Organisers are just weeks away from discovering if a joint England and Wales bid will beat out those from Germany, South Africa and another dual proposal from Belgium and Netherlands to stage the 2026 event.
The England captain lent his voice to a video for the aspiring hosts’ promotional campaign, which was launched on Wednesday.
“It will encourage perceptions of hockey, encourage participation, and benefit local communities,” he said. “I’m backing the bid.”
Goalkeeper Ollie Payne, who won bronze with England at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in August, was delighted by the football skipper’s support.
“It’s amazing,” he told the PA news agency from the north London football club’s state-of the-art home. “He’s someone you watch on TV or Match of the Day every week.
“When you come here and realise the magnitude of what’s going on, it’s super exciting and just makes you want to be a part of it.
“[Playing here] wouldn’t be a bad advert for the game,” joked Payne, who plays at club level for Holcombe, adding “the more good to come out of the game, the more you inspire younger generations, you inspire every generation to then go to the domestic games and want to be a part of the sport in whatever fashion that is. That’s hopefully what it will bring, and that’s really, really exciting.”
The 62,850-capacity Premier League venue, which is able to accommodate over 10 times the number of supporters than at the sport’s Birmingham 2022 home, is arguably the biggest carrot England Hockey and Hockey Wales are dangling at decision-makers.
But geographic diversity is also critical to what they hope will be a positive outcome for their proposal when the decision is made in early November, with other matches proposed for Twickenham Stoop in London, cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton and Cardiff Arms Park.
Rupert Shipperley grew up playing rugby but made the leap to hockey full time, debuting for Wales in 2014.
You only need look to his former sport, he said, to understand the potential of those Cardiff Arms clashes.
“You just look at what rugby has done in Wales,” said Shipperley. “So if we can create a small part of that in the hockey world it would be massive.
“We’ve got very passionate [sports] fans in Wales, loud fans, and they’ve travelled around the world following us so it’s about time we brought it back to Cardiff for them.”
England and Great Britain Hockey CEO Nick Pink agreed.
“Wales is a fundamental part of our bid,” he said. “To bring the two nations together in the way that we do, we’re pretty much aligned a lot of the time anyway. We come together as Great Britain leading into the Olympic Games every four years.
“When you go back to 2012, only 10 years ago, when the Olympic Games was here, we’ve hosted European Championships, we’ve hosted the women’s (hockey) World Cup in east London, so there’s a proud tradition of hosting events here in the UK.
“With the Women’s Euros and the Commonwealth Games, we have people that come out and watch these amazing events. We’re big eventers here in the UK.”
But World Cup hockey at a sold-out Spurs? That, he agreed, would be unprecedented.
He added: “This is something that hockey fans will have never experienced before, and to put them into one of the finest stadiums in the world to watch a hockey semi-final and a hockey world final is something that we can only dream about.”
Come November, he will know if the dream will come true.