Representing your country is the dream of many a sports man or woman, but for some this dream is already a reality. Jamie Whitehouse is a typical 18 year old boy with all the usual problems of girls, exams and friends; but can also be found with hockey stick in hand preparing to represent his country, next at the Euro Hockey Championships.
Having progressed through club and county sides, Jamie now plays U18 hockey for Wales. However, he is also a keen musician and is studying for his A-levels at Seaford College. “It’s quite challenging trying to juggle school, training and fitness as well as my other love – music; but I have always loved a challenge and have had the support of my teachers and parents.”
“When I was 16 I was told I was eligible to play for Wales (my Mum is Welsh) and was asked if I would like to go to Cardiff for a trial. I was given a place in the Under 18 boy’s squad. This was quite a commitment for me and my Mum as the training days/weekends were held in either Cardiff or Wrexham. But training with the Welsh boys and subsequently playing for them in National and International Tournaments has significantly improved the standard of my hockey.”
“Hockey has been great for me, I am lucky to have a bit of natural talent and have had some great coaching and support over the years. Playing and training as a team has allowed me to make some great friends, we are all very close and often hang out together outside hockey.”
Jamie has always been naturally fit and muscular (he had a six pack from the age of 4)! “Fitness has always been important to me, I use my own fitness drills to meet my current fitness needs. Now I play hockey almost year round, but still have time to enjoy a little cricket in the summer.”
The European Hockey U18 Championships are to be held this year in Gasawa, Poland. “I am so excited to be travelling to Poland for the Euro Hockey Championships. This is a rare opportunity and I am so lucky to have been selected to represent Wales in this prestigious competition.” The Welsh team will be playing other U18 teams from Russia, Switzerland, Belarus, Poland, Italy and Ireland. Their first match against Switzerland is on the 8th July. “I am nervous and excited, but confident that we will work well as a team to do our best.”
Most people tend to think that it is not possible to play a sport to a high level unless you have done it since you were very young. But, it was not until Jamie moved schools in year 7 that he discovered hockey. “I have always been sporty so when I arrived at senior school I was keen to try new sports. I played cricket, rugby and a bit of football at school but I fell in love with hockey from the start. The school season is short so I was soon asking my Mum to help me find a club to play for.”
At the age of 13 Jamie joined Horsham Hockey Club; the club was well managed and had a good reputation for developing junior players. “I have always been very competitive, so naturally I joined a club that could provide me with the training I wanted to take my hockey further.”As well as the different age squads, Horsham also run a development side called the Hotshots. He was asked to train with them, this helped develop his technique and he became a strong member of the club. At the age of 16 he was invited to train with the Men’s team! It was during this time that he was also put forward for Sussex County trials. He successfully gained places in the U15, 16 and 17’s Sussex squads, which further helped develop his game.
Jamie is now completing his final year and has got a job as a Gap student at a local school for his gap year. There he will be using his hockey and coaching skills to help the next generation achieve their sporting goals. After his gap year Jamie hopes to attend University to gain qualifications in sport and business.
Competitive sport at this is not for everyone, but sport is important for living a healthy happy life. It doesn’t matter that you’re not aiming for Team GB, having a go is what counts. Set yourself realistic goals and aim to meet them, whether that is playing for your college’s 1st team or simply jogging a 5K charity run, it is your goal and you’ll feel proud to have achieved it.
Good luck to Jamie and the entire Welsh squad at the Euros in July. You can keep up to date with their progress on the Euro Hockey website under Euro Hockey Youth Championship II.