A young ice hockey netminder will make his debut for England at age level after being invited to take part in an international tournament in Canada in February.
Ice hockey netminder Ben Ward will make his debut for England at the 2013 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. (140113MW10-9)
Ben Ward, 12, of Norwell, has watched ice hockey since he was a baby, and has been playing for three years.
In that time he has gone from putting his skates on for the first time to getting an England call-up, and the young prospect said he was excited and nervous at the thought of representing his country.
“It is definitely the highlight of my short playing career so far,” said Ben.
“I was so happy I was jumping around when I found out.”
“A lot of professional players played in this tournament when they were young players so it will be great to follow in their footsteps.”
Ben, a pupil at Tuxford Academy, has grown up with ice hockey as his main sport, as he was taken to local team Nottingham Panthers’ games from being a baby, and he remains a season ticket holder there.
His dad offered him a sweet if he could make it round the ice rink without falling over, but Ben realised he wanted more than sweets after discovering his talent on the ice.
He now plays for the Nottingham Tigers.
The road to an England call-up has not come without its price for the youngster, who has had more than his fair share of travelling to get to training sessions and matches.
“Sometimes I have started training at 11pm because that is when people leave the ice rinks, so I have finished training at 1am, got home at 2am, and then had to go to school the next day,” Ben said.
“But when you get to play for England it makes it all worth it, because it means I am one of the best in the country at what I do at my age.”
Ben, who was invited on a trial for England with around 60 hopefuls last year, battled through several rounds of trials, and eventually made it down to the 18-strong squad.
He is now set to make his debut for his country in the 2013 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, which attracts the best 11 to 12 year-olds from North America and Europe.
Ben will play at least seven games in goal for England, and will stay with a French-Canadian family along with one of his team-mates.
He said: “It is unlikely I will make it to the National Hockey League in North America, no English netminder has ever made it there, but I would like to think I could play for Great Britain’s senior side one day.
“Hopefully when I’m a bit older I can play for GB’s under-18 side, and then we’ll see after that.”