(Photo: frank uijlenbroek)

German internationals Tina Bachmann and Julia Müller have played hockey in the Netherlands for years so the current World Cup is a bit of a home-based competition for them. Müller joined Laren hockey club near Hilversum seven years ago and Bachmann followed her over the border a year later. Both players now speak fluent Dutch and captain Dutch teams: Müller is at Utrecht side Kampong and Bachman captains Oranje-Zwart in Eindhoven. 

“I’m happy here,” says Müller after Germany’s draw against China. “Fewer people came to watch today because we were in the smaller stadium and a lot of people left towards the end to take their seats for the Dutch men’s match. But playing hockey in front of 5,000 people is something special.”

Bachman, who played her 250th international against China, also feels at home in the Netherlands. “I’ve been playing here for six years and I have made many friends. My parents are here, and my dad is at every match. It feels like a home crowd to me.”

The 35-year-old defender is particularly pleased to be part of Germany’s World Cup squad because she was left out of the 2012 Olympic team. “I am extremely thankful to have been given another opportunity,” she says. “I thought my international career was over, so it is terrific to play in front of so many people at such a big tournament.”

Müller is particularly happy the World Cup is being staged in the Netherlands. This is not just because of her friends, but because of the amount of media attention the sport generates here. “A World Cup in Germany would be special as well, but the Dutch are hockey mad,” she says. “It does not matter which country is playing. The public turn out to watch. They are here from early in the morning until late at night. It would not be the same in Germany.”

Next weekend Müller’s family are coming over from Hamburg to support their daughter. The 28-year-old midfielder expects more German fans to arrive over the next few days as well. ‘There are quite a few German flags around the place already,” she says. “And there are a lot more to come.”