Sam Ward is a goal machine, there is no doubt about that. Whether it is banging the goals in for Great Britain, England or his club side Holcombe, when Sam is in sight of goal, defenders get scared. This season he has 13 league goals to his name and will be hopeful of adding to that tally when Holcombe travel to Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre in just under a week’s time.
And yet, away from the pitch, the 27 year-old is a shy, gentle and very thoughtful sports man. He recently travelled to Bahrain to support the development of hockey in the Arab state and he says ‘It was amazing to visit and help develop the game there. My aim is to support getting a pitch over there so we can really grow the game in that area of the world.’
Back in England, all talk is of the next few weeks and the League Finals, where Holcombe will face Surbiton, Ward is pleased with the preparations that Holcombe have in place for the weeks leading up to the showcase event.
‘There is quite a lot going on. We have a tour to Belgium to play against some top quality opposition there and we have also just played Durham University, so that is all good preparation. The tour to Belgium will be very important as it gives the squad valuable time together over an intense period. Normally, we train a couple of times a week, so heading into the Finals Weekend, having quality time against top club teams is perfect preparation.’
The recent England trip to South Africa, where Ward and teammates David Ames and George Pinner were all part of the squad, meant that the forward missed a couple of league games but, he say, the depth in the squad meant that this wasn’t ever going to spoil Holcombe’s grasp on a place at Finals Weekend.
More of a challenge, says Ward, is how the teams that qualify for the EuroHockey Club Championships fare.
‘It is difficult to compete, for example, with the Dutch clubs who can have up to five overseas players. If you can pick the best internationals in your team, you will start from a very strong base. We are only allowed to have one overseas player at the moment. Of course, what this means is that the home grown players are getting better and better, but there is still a little bit of distance at the moment between the top Dutch and German teams and the best from the UK.’
Before Europe beckons, however, there is the task of winning at Lee Valley. Ward says that Holcombe’s strength lies in its solidarity among the team and coaching staff. The opposition would probably point to the Olympian’s uncanny ability to find the goal as the Kent team’s major strength.
Watch Sam Ward and his Holcombe team mates go for glory at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre this weekend - tickets on sale here!