SPEEDY winger Jamie Whitehouse has seen his rapid rise through the Horsham ranks rewarded with a first call-up to the Wales U18 squad.
And the 17 year old’s international bow will be extra special, with his first game due to be held at the Olympic Hockey Centre, meaning he will get to run out on to the striking new pitch ahead of the top players at this summer’s Games.
The teenage ace has been a huge hit for Horsham this season, establishing himself in the team and becoming an instrumental component in their nine-game winning streak which has seen them reach this weekend’s play-offs.
Having been successful in a trial match against Scotland, Jamie has been selected in the 16-man Wales U18 squad to play in next month’s UK School Games. With the first round of matches against England at the Olympic Hockey Centre Jamie could hardly begin his international career on a more high profile stage.
Jamie, who also plays hockey for Seaford College, said: “I was really pleased when I found out. Playing for Wales (in the warm-up games) was nerve wracking, the standard is a lot higher than I am used to but I really enjoyed the experience. It’s a great honour to be selected and the opportunity to play in the Olympic stadium is fantastic.”
The hockey centre is part of the brand new Olympic Park in Stratford, and is particularly striking because of the unusual blue and pink pitch. During this summer’s Games it will host around 780,000 spectators with both the Olympic and Paralympic hockey, as well as the five and seven-a-side football events staged there.
Horsham men’s firsts captain John Burroughs says Jamie’s rise through the club ranks is an example for other young hopefuls.
“He’s almost certainly been the most improved youth player at the club,” Burroughs said. “We looked at him last season but he wasn’t really ready, but at the start of this year he was the one who really stood out and there are a lot of talented youngsters coming through.
“It’s his speed which really stands him out, he’s so quick, but working with (head coach) Sam Naismith has helped him use his speed. He’s extremely skilful with the ball and he’s scored some outstanding goals for us too.”
Good luck to Horsham men’s firsts at his Sunday’s play-offs, where two wins will see them cap a fantastic season with promotion to the Southern Division 2 League.