Great Britain forward Aimee Headland is hoping Olympic success can lead to more interest in women’s ice hockey.
The 19-year-old is in Nottingham preparing for GB’s opening game against Iceland on Thursday as they make their first steps towards the Winter Olympics next year.
And Aimee believes the mere fact that it is all about qualification for Beijing immediately raises the level.
“The amount of girls who would show an interest, get involved and want to play would flow if we were to succeed this week,” she said.
“The support we’ve had from it being in Nottingham has been huge and I know people who are dying to come because of the mention of it being Olympic qualifiers.
FreeSports are delighted to confirm exclusive live coverage of @GBWomensHockey's 3 games at the Women’s Olympic Qualifiers this week 🙌
The group winners will qualify for November’s Final Qualification tournament for next year’s Winter Olympics! pic.twitter.com/yLwd4pfmvh
— FreeSports 📺 (@FreeSports_TV) October 4, 2021
“It will be a big step forward for women’s hockey and the amount of coverage will take it to the next level and so far, it’s boosted a lot in the sport.
“It’s definitely inspiring to know there could be a place in the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Even just having that chance is mind blowing.
“It’s what all athletes dream about and it’s great to know that dream, as a child, could become a reality if we can be successful.”
Headland plays her hockey for Norwich University in Vermont and has become something of a big part of the team already.
She’s enjoying the experience of working under new coach Mike Clancy, who replaced Cheryl Smyth earlier this year.
But admits taking to the ice on national duty without sister, Chloe, who pulled out last month, is going to be unusual.
“We have a new coach in Mike Clancy and he knows what he wants and knows the potential of the team.
“He’s doing everything to get us to where he knows we can be. He’s come in and knows the role, which he’s executed from day one.
“Not having Chloe in the team with me will be different. From my first tournament with GB, she’s always been with me so it’s strange to not have her in the team.
“Especially considering it’s such a big tournament as well, it’s going to be weird. I know she’ll be cheering us on and hopefully she’ll be with us in the next round if we make it.”
Great Britain will have the backing of the biggest crowd for a women's game in the UK this week in Nottingham.
Tickets remain on sale at just £6.50 (inc fees) with U16s going free with paying adult.
— GB Womens Hockey (@GBWomensHockey) October 5, 2021