Chiswick's Michael Hoare will fulfil a childhood dream when he makes his World Cup bow in The Hague this week but he’s not just going for the experience – gold is firmly in mind.
As an eight-year-old having just joined Formby Hockey Club, Hoare used to pretend he was playing for England at the World Cup, re-enacting the scene with friends.
Fast forward two decades and the 28-year-old Wimbledon Hockey Club player will do it for real, this time in the Netherlands, as England begin their bid for a first World Cup title on saturday.
Hoare made his first England appearance in December 2012 against India in the Champions Trophy before joining the set up full-time in 2013.
And, with the potential of reaching 50 caps while he’s at the World Cup, Hoare believes he’s playing some of the best hockey of his career – and at the right time with a medal being targeted.
“This is something you dream about from a young age,” said Hoare. “I’ve been playing since I was eight-years-old.
“I remember hitting a ball around with my friends, pretending it was a World Cup final, just like you do in football and then tennis at Wimbledon. To be able to do it is a dream come true.
“I’m going into the tournament feeling really confident, I feel like I’m just getting better and better the more I play international hockey.
“I will be coming up to my 50th cap during the World Cup and I’m starting to feel more experienced and comfortable in the team and knowing what my role is.
“I don’t see why we can’t get gold; we’ve got the capabilities to beat anyone on our day. We’ve played a lot of the top teams recently in the last year and half and we’ve beaten all of them so I don’t see why we can’t do it.”
England open their campaign on Saturday against Spain before further Pool A games against India, Malaysia, Australia and Belgium, with the top two teams progressing through to the semi-finals.
World number ones Australia are also the reigning champions although England pipped them to bronze at January’s League World Final in Delhi.
And Hoare, who was part of that squad in India at the turn of the year, believes another strong tournament like that can light the touch paper for further success.
“We won a bronze medal in January in the World League Final against Australia; it was a really good performance," he said. "We will be hoping to not only beat them again but improve on that performance.
“If we have a really successful World Cup, this team is just going to go from strength to strength. The Commonwealth Games are not long afterwards and I’d be really confident of coming away with a gold or silver medal, and fingers crossed it will be gold.”
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