England joy for Blackburn

A VETERAN hockey player hopes he can inspire the region’s youngsters after being named in the England over-45s squad for the International Masters event in Singapore next month.

Tim Blackburn, 47, is part of the 21-man squad travelling to the Far East tournament, which begins on October 29 and features teams including New Zealand and Australia.

Blackburn, a coach and player at Sudbury Hockey Club, attended trials for his country earlier in the year and was part of the squad that conquered the Four Nations tournament, in Belfast, in June.

He now hopes to impress on an international stage and stake a claim for a spot in the squad for next year’s World Cup which will be held in England.

“I hope my story can encourage youngsters who may think if they keep playing, even if it is for a little club like Sudbury, there is nothing to stop them,” said Blackburn, who works at BT in Martlesham.

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“Forty people were invited for the trials and that number was then whittled down to 21. First of all it was tremendous to be handed a trial and even better to be called up for Singapore.

“To have made the East of England team was an achievement in itself for me and to represent my country is quite astonishing. I get goose-bumps when the national anthem is played and I think this call-up has put Sudbury on the map.”

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The right-back, who can also play in midfield, believes England have a good chance of going all the way in the tournament, which provides age-group competitions in five-year stages between the ages of 40 and 70.

“We are going out there (Singapore) with a good team and the players have just come back from Germany as European champions,” he said.

“The team is made up of some current internationals and some players who will be making their debuts. Tournaments like this can only help raise the profile of age-group hockey.”

Blackburn’s Far East adventure is costing in the region of �4,000 (including kit, flight and accomodation) and he is seeking sponsorship to help fund the trip.

To sponsor him contact tim.blackburn@shc.org.uk.

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