First England Cap for Bancroftian
Congratulations to Fifth Former Will Hopkins (5S) who has made his hockey debut for England U16s.
Will’s journey began last summer with the JRPC camps. He was chosen to represent Saxon Tigers at the Boys U16s Futures Cup (a competition for North, East, West and Midlands Regions) which they won. This led to selection for the initial England Squad of 36. After three training weekends in December and January, the list was cut to 26 with Will making the final squad. He said, “It would have been really disappointing to have been left out at this stage having put so much effort into the process.” Practice games followed against the U17s and also British Colleges before the fixtures against the Netherland, one the strongest sides in Europe, over the Easter weekend at the National Sports Centre in Lilleshall. “We were nervous going into our first match as England had not beaten the Dutch for a number of years.” The scores for the three matches were 2-1 to the Dutch, 4-3 to England and 1-0 to England. All the matches were hard fought and very close, with the deciding goals scored in the final minutes. It was nail biting and, understandably, the Dutch were devastated! Of the results, Will said , “We won 2 matches out of 3 and were the only England team to do so. It was a brilliant feeling.”
He describes his England selection as a “privilege” saying, “I am passionate about all sport but mainly hockey and cricket. I love hockey because it is fast paced requiring a high level of skill and precision as well as combining the team ethos. I enjoy the banter before a match and encouragement during the game from my fellow team mates.”
The programme continues throughout the summer with further training at Lilleshall as well as camps and matches against Ulster and Scotland. A camp in Belgium in early July is swiftly followed by the Six Nations Tournament in Breda which Will describes as “the real culmination of everyone’s efforts throughout the last year”.
As well as playing for Bancroft’s, Will has been a member at Old Loughts since he was nine. He has played for Essex for five years and captained the County team for four of them.
He says, “I have to thank School for allowing me to miss rugby during last September and October which enabled me to stay injury free and concentrate 100% on my hockey. Thanks to Arram in the gym who has helped with my fitness and conditioning programme and to Mr MacLeod who has supported me along the way. The end of July brings about the School Hockey Trip to Singapore and Malaysia which should be a great experience in itself not just on the sporting front but as a cultural experience too.”