Sam Ward

England and Great Britain Hockey Player Sam Ward shares his journey to become a senior international player.


My sister and I were the first two players who signed up for the Banana Bunch - the kids section of Leicester Ladies. I was the first male to join the club! Gaynor Nash was our coach and I was playing mostly with a team of girls. At nine, we felt it was in my best interests to find a boys’ team, so I moved to Beeston. We won the National Finals at U11, U13, U15 and U18. I played midfield, but scored a lot of goals.

I represented Midlands through all ages, but I have to be honest, I was a “chunky kid”. I had England U16 trials, but was told I wasn’t fit enough, I had quite a lot of knee pain growing up. I almost chose to stop, but continued at Beeston. At 19, I was asked to go with the team to the Euro Hockey League, invited to a few National Performance Centres and U21 trials, but it was the same story as before. I was never fit enough to play international sport. Aged 21/22, I refused to do any more sessions. I was working in a car dealership and to be honest, I was weeks away from deciding to give up playing hockey altogether in order to progress in my career.

I really enjoyed playing for Beeston and I was scoring goals – lots of them! In 2014 Andy Halliday was coaching indoor and asked me to join the squad to go and play in the A division. I scored a lot of goals there too. It was after this tournament that Bobby Crutchley, the men’s GB coach at the time, asked me to come for some training with the men. I was not initially selected for the tournament in India but an injury to another player allowed me to join the squad.

Afterwards, the strength and conditioning coach and Bobby sat me in a room for a meeting and basically gave me an ultimatum - we only want the best Sam Ward that you can be - that means physically conditioned - and that I wouldn’t play hockey again until I was fit enough. So for the next 12 weeks I basically ran! I thought about quitting, but I stuck in. I wanted to prove all the doubters wrong.

Since then, the only time I haven’t been selected is due to an impact injury. I pride myself on being un-droppable. I know I can score goals in the nine yards and that I am great at winning the ball in pressing situations and blocking the opposition from playing. They hate playing against me. I drag flick corners at PCA and line stop at PCD. I make sure I have the skill sets that no one else can do to my level. I am brave and determined and guess I have a mentality like no other. The injuries I have sustained over the last few years with a broken wrist and now no central vision in one eye have now also pushed me to limits that I have struggled to overcome, but when people say I can’t, I just have a mindset of I can and I will!