PC Rebecca Hunt has just returned from Norway representing the UK Police Women’s Football Team, and is now looking forward to watching top class international football a bit closer to home from this weekend.
Tomorrow (9 July) and Sunday (10 July) see the first UEFA Women’s European Championships 2022 fixtures take place in South Yorkshire after Sheffield and Rotherham were chosen as two of the hosts for this summer’s tournament in England.
Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane and Rotherham United’s AESSEAL New York Stadium will play host to seven of the tournament’s 16 teams for the group stages – defending champions The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland in Sheffield and France, Italy, Belgium and Iceland in Rotherham.
And PC Hunt can’t wait to see them lock horns in the county she serves, having travelled to Manchester’s Old Trafford stadium as a fan on Wednesday (6 July) night to see the hosts beat Austria 1-0 in the opening game of the tournament.
“It was brilliant,” she says. “The atmosphere was incredible. Everything from the fireworks and the opening ceremony to the final whistle was great. I saw on social media that so many people I know were there and it’s good to see people getting invested like this.
“It will be brilliant to have it here. Even if I can’t make every game due to work patterns it will just be nice to be able to go home, put on the telly and watch top class women’s international football happening so close to me.
“Actually, it’s the best thing ever for women’s football in this country. It’s come at a good time for the game here as it’s booming. I’m hoping everyone enjoys it.”
PC Hunt, 28, called Becca by everyone, is a Barnsley Neighbourhood Policing Team officer based out of Cudworth station and has been busy on the football front recently.
After finding out she had made the Police UK squad for last month’s Union Sportive Des Polices D’Europe (USPE) European Police Championship in Trondheim, Norway, she herself got to experience representing her country – as well as her police force – at an international tournament.
The Police UK team that finished fifth out of eight European forces competing. And while it was their best ever finish at one of these events, Becca was disappointed not to get out of their group and make the semi-final stage.
She didn’t make the field for the opening 3-0 loss to reigning champions Germany on 14 June. But a day later Becca came off the bench at half-time and nearly helped change the game as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat to The Netherlands. She started the final group game against Ireland on 16 June and set up both goals in a 2-1 win, before again starting as the team beat Denmark 2-1 on 18 June in the fifth place play-off.
“It was one of the best weeks I’ve ever had,” says Becca. “It was well-organised and I loved getting to meet different people from different police forces around Europe.
“We sat back defensively and held Germany for about 70 minutes or so but then they managed to score and then quickly score two more. The Holland game was different. They scored early and put 11 players behind the ball. We created a lot to try and equalise but we just couldn’t score. That was disappointing and deflating.
“But I was very happy with how the team played overall. I was on the wing against Ireland and then in centre midfield against Denmark.”
Becca hopes to continue representing the team and be involved in the next event in Munich, Germany, in three years’ time – “I’m the right age group”, she adds.
But for now, her focus is on the Women’s Euros, and helping South Yorkshire to enjoy the party atmosphere it is sure to create.
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