Whiteman reveals how Hockey World Cup almost passed him by
Tim Whiteman has revealed how he thought his Hockey World Cup dream would simply materialise into nothing as he prepares to make his debut in The Hague.
Whiteman has been playing hockey for over two decades and even featured for England at under-21 level but has had to wait to break into the senior team.
The 27-year-old finally made his England debut at the World League Final back in January having spent time coaching for a living before moving into teaching.
That has now all changed and his international bow was no baptism of fire as England defeated world No.1s Australia to win bronze at the World League Final in India.
Whiteman is part of an 18-strong England squad bidding for just the nation’s second World Cup medal in the Netherlands but he admits he’d given up hope of ever being able to do so.
“I’d played through the age groups and I got to 25 or 26 and just thought ‘well, if they haven’t asked now they probably won’t’,” said Whiteman.
“I think we knew there would be changes in personnel when [head coach] Bobby [Crutchley] took over but I genuinely never thought that I was going to get offered a chance.
“I played relatively well in the assessment days but even then I was probably a bit of a gamble so I’m probably indebted to Bobby.
“At the assessment days they looked at probably 50 or 60 people from all over the country and I felt like I played OK but I didn’t think I was outstanding.
“So when Bobby called it was pretty incredible and I thought ‘wow, things are going to change’. I had a lot of questions for him and he was like ‘OK, calm down Tim we’ll sort all these out soon’.
“It just feels amazing to be going to the World Cup. A year ago I would have just joined the system and I never thought I’d even get that far.”
Whiteman and England will face a tough set of matches at the World Cup after being drawn in Pool A alongside Spain, Belgium, India, Malaysia and Australia.
However, with the defeat of Australia at the World League Final still fresh in his mind, Whiteman believes England have the chance to do something special.
And whether or not England come back as champions or medallists, Whiteman is determined to savour every moment of his time on the biggest stage.
“Australia have been at the top of the international tree for a long time and everyone knows how good they are so to get a win against them was massive,” he added.
“Results like that make you think ‘wow, we’re in a team that could actually make some history in England terms’ and that’s really exciting.
“I was teaching before this so it’s all a bit surreal and, while I wouldn’t rule out going back to it one day, for now I’m living the dream being here.
“It’s been a big transition for me; I don’t wake up so early which is one of the big differences. But just to be selected for a World Cup is incredible and is the peak of an awesome year.”
© Sportsbeat 2014
Photo Ady Kerry