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Student hockey player called up to Wales squad

Engineering student Cameron Mitchell selected for the Welsh U18s National Hockey Squad.

Engineering student Cameron Mitchell has taken another step closer to making his dreams come true on the hockey field as he has been selected for the Welsh U18s National Squad.

Cameron, who is half Welsh on his mum’s side, successfully made it through the trials for the U16 squad during the second lockdown, after a coach at his local team, Reading Hockey Club, encouraged him to go for it. Having gone up against other hopefuls from across the country, Cameron thoroughly impressed the coaches and has since gone on to qualify for the U18 squad, where he is a goalkeeper.

The Year 12 student said: “I play for Wales whenever I’m needed. Every half-term there’s a training camp or a test series and the club have their version of regional level training every other week.”

He says he is looking forward to joining the team as they get set to play Scotland, Ulster and are hoping to travel to Holland later in the year for two weeks.

Cameron is loving his time and learning a lot at Wales, and hopes one day to make it to the men’s senior squad. He’s also got bigger plans…

“With the hockey world it’s quite private-school based, and the GB squad is mostly made up of English players. I want to try and prove a point – that a Welsh keeper who went to a state school can get into the GB squad – you don’t have to be privately educated or have the best training in the world to get there.”

He certainly seems to have the dedication to make it. As well as training with Wales, Cameron continues to play for Reading Hockey Club, for whom he trains with three times a week. And then there’s the fitness…

“I do a lot of fitness outside of hockey so I’m able to perform at my best. I’ve got a small home gym where I do weights, then I do cardio four times a week – a 5km run or sprint training.”

“I love playing sports – it’s the thing I love to do the most,” he says.  “I started playing hockey at three, but that wasn’t my only sport. I used to do competitive swimming until I was about 12, and I love skiing and rugby. If I had the time to play rugby too I still would.”

But right now he’s working on his hockey skills, which he says are coordination and agility, especially for goalkeepers.

“If you’re not agile, when you go down you can’t get back up quickly, so you end up conceding silly rebounds, and if your coordination isn’t on point you just end up missing the ball – it comes quite fast!”

It seems Cameron has chosen a sport where the injuries are likely to come thick and fast. “It’s not as violent as it seems but I have been injured,” he says. “A while back I ripped my abductor, meaning I was on crutches for two weeks and had to rest for about six weeks. That was tough when I’m used to playing so much sport.”

But it was on the rugby field that Cameron suffered his worst injury, when, in Year 10, he was partially knocked out and trampled on in a game. After being taken to hospital in an ambulance he was diagnosed with concussion and had to rest for 18 weeks.

“I struggled to walk for about a week, felt nauseous all the time and my vision was blurred. Now any knocks to my head I have to take very seriously. Any time I go to a session and get a ball to the head I have to sit down for about 5-10 minutes, even if I’m not hurt. Then I get my mates to check me over quickly to make sure I’m alright.”

Off the hockey field Cameron is just as ambitious. He recently joined the school in Year 12 studying Level 3 Engineering and hopes to get an apprenticeship at Great Western or AWE when he finishes.

He says he’s got his dad to thank for his love of engineering.

“My dad owns vintage London buses and I help out with the engineering – right now we’re rebuilding a Routemaster engine which is quite hard work.”

So where does schoolwork fit in among all the fitness and the tinkering? Does he ever relax?

That’s where the benefits of the UTC’s longer school day comes in. “Schoolwork is really manageable because I get most of it done in school,” he says. “Then I get about an hour and half at home to relax before I do some more schoolwork and get some fitness done.”

Principal Jonathan Nicholls had this to say:

“We are all immensely proud of Cameron’s selection for the Welsh Hockey Squad. The constant juggle of priorities in life is a challenge for anyone. To see a young man, managing the demands of a rigorous training programme whilst continuing to focus on his studies at the UTC is nothing short of an inspiration. UTC Reading works with students to foster a culture where they are Ready, Respectful and Relentless. It is wonderful to see Cameron demonstrating all three of these elements at this early stage of his life and I have no doubt these foundations will help him grow towards further success in the future."

Coming up for Cameron with the Welsh team is a series of three games against Ulster at Easter, plus the fight for his local side Reading to stay in the league. All of us at UTC will be routing for him!

 

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