HIGH Wycombe Hockey Club star Liam Sanford is fast learning that it’s not all glamorous at the top – but he has vowed to work harder than ever to make his international dreams a reality.
The 18-year-old has been involved in the England set-up since U16 level and, now in the U18 squad, is working through the age groups before he bids to become a fully-fledged senior.
And with a host of opportunities for silverware lined up over the coming months on the continent a proud Sanford, a former Princes Risborough School pupil, fully intends help England to success.
“The first time I put on an England shirt was my proudest moment, nothing can replace that feeling when you know you’ve come so far to get there,” he said.
“Hockey started out as something to keep me fit and active, so then to put on an England shirt for the first time was amazing.
“This year they’ve selected the training squad of 27 and there’s the Four Nations, which this year is Belgium, Germany, Holland and England.
“After that it’s a lot of training and we’ve got the Six Nations in Spain in July – it’s going really well but it gets a bit tedious sometimes, travelling up and travelling back.
“But, along with getting wet and cold, it’s all worth it in the end just to play for your country. I hope I get selected because I was a year younger last year and got selected for both.
“But I’m still going to put in 100 per cent and get it right because to miss out would be tough to take. We want to win either the Four Nations or the Six Nations.”
Sanford benefits from the SSE Next Generation ambassador scheme and spent time in Loughborough this month getting unique advice from British great Sir Chris Hoy.
And, as for his senior ambitions, Sanford admits he will have to play the waiting game for now – but has pencilled in Tokyo 2020 as the Olympics in which he can make his mark.
“It’s a bit too early for me to be in the squad for the Commonwealth Games this year but in four years’ time I reckon, if I keep going and striving to achieve that, it’s possible,” he added.
“I don’t look at the Rio 2016 Olympics thinking I can go either, Great Britain hockey don’t really go for people U20 – there’s only been one guy in the last 20 years under that age to get into the team.
“But 2020 should be a good year and that’s what I’ll be aiming for.”
SSE are partnering with SportsAid to support the sporting stars of the future as part of their commitment to Glasgow 2014 and beyond with their SSE Next Generation ambassador programme. Keep up to date with the latest @YourSSE