Congratulations to Archie and Rose Winter who have been selected for the Boys’ and Girls’ England U18 hockey squad. The siblings will train once a month with the 26 man squad and compete in four series against the Netherlands, Scotland, Germany and Belgium before final selection for the Europeans in July this Summer. We catch up with the brother and sister duo to find out what the selection means and if they were always keen on hockey.
Do you enjoy training and playing for England?
Archie: It isn’t always fun. We aren’t together as a group that often so we have to work extremely hard to get as much out of us as a squad. It’s good getting to know everyone and I’ve made some really close friends.
Rose: Yes I really do enjoy it. The opportunity to play for your country is not one that comes around very often so although it’s really hard work, it’s all worth it. I’ve made some great friends through being in the system who I hope to keep in touch with forever!
Do England expect you to commit to a certain diet and training programme in the run up to a tournament?
Rose: As well as hockey training at school or club, we are expected to keep our fitness levels up and S & C.
Archie: We complete weekly diaries so as to monitor that everyone is playing enough or not too much.
How do you prepare for a game?
Rose: We always have music playing in the changing room. Everyone does their hair, puts the right shoes on and then we have a team talk and get focussed for the game.
Archie: I’m probably more relaxed before a school game just because I feel less pressure. I look forward to all games, so preparation doesn’t differ too much.
Do you have any superstitions such as lucky socks, headband etc?
Rose: I don’t really, but I do play with certain bracelets on and hairbands on my wrist and I always fold the top of my glove over so it doesn’t touch my wrist.
Archie: I always put my left shin pad on before my right one.
Have you had any set-backs?
Archie: I had a couple of tough seasons where I wasn’t selected for the Under 16 England team, I was proud of Rose because she got selected at those times, but it made it a little bit harder for me. It knocked my confidence a bit but never stopped me wanting to play or keep trying.
Rose: At the beginning of this year’s process, after Futures Cup, I didn’t get selected for nags training which is the only way you can get into the Under 18 team. I was disappointed but at the same time I wasn’t going expecting to be selected as I still had another year in that age group. After accepting it I then received an email saying I was invited to a training camp so I had another chance to try and impress.
How do you recover after a game?
Rose: After every match we have a 5-minute cool down jog and then stretch. I’m always craving a chocolate milkshake after a game so I usually have one in my bag and maybe a bar to nibble if I’m hungry.
Archie: After an international game we have a really long warm down which is led by the physio and then as soon as that’s done we have an ice bath for 8 minutes. I always like a banana milkshake as well!
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Rose: I think managing my time with work, especially last year during GCSEs, was one of the hardest challenges. I missed most Saturdays and sometimes weeks off school for either club hockey or training days and matches. Managing social time as well stressed me out as my friends would invite me to things but I was never able to go because I was either at hockey or having to catch up on school work.
Archie: After not getting selected that was quite tough. It never really stopped me from believing or training so my biggest challenge so far has probably been trying to get picked for the Six Nations last year which I managed to do but it took a lot of time and work.
What’s been your biggest match? Biggest achievement?
Rose: My biggest, most memorable match was at Six Nations last year in Barcelona when we played the Spanish. On the bus on the way to the pitch we shared the bus with the Spanish team we were about to play. They did everything they could to annoy us and even though there was a slight language barrier we ended up having a singing battle of who could be the loudest and everything got slightly heated. When we got off the bus we were already fired up and fought throughout the whole game ending up winning 4-3. Being an evening match, it was dark but still really hot. All the stands were full with rowdy Spanish spectators banging the gates and chanting. It was the most energising game and beating them was something we weren’t expecting. When the final whistle went our whole team dropped everything and dived on top of each other!
Archie: Making my international debut against the Dutch last year was probably my biggest achievement. I also take a lot of pride from winning and captaining our school from Under 14s (which seems a while ago now) to winning the nationals.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Rose: Alex Danson is a huge role model for me. She is so inspirational with her work ethic and commitment to hockey, the gym sessions, the running and the behind scenes training that she completes without fail. My first team Captain at school, Molly Redgrove, also inspires me. She spends every minute she can on the pitch either running or practising corners or skills to get better.
Archie: All the professional athletes you see at the top of their sport inspire me but this year I have been lucky enough to play and be coached with Tim Whiteman who played for GB and Beeston for a number of years. He’s definitely a role model of mine and someone I’d aspire to be like in the hockey world.
THE EARLY YEARS / FAMILY LIFE:
When did you first pick up a hockey stick?
Archie: We both joined Harleston Magpies Club at around 7 or 8-years-old. Then for Year 7 I left my local school to go to Framlingham College Prep School. Hockey was a major sport there so I was able to play more and more which definitely helped me to improve.
Did you instantly like it and were you always good at it?
Archie: As we started to play in mini tournaments and matches I enjoyed it more and more. I definitely started to blossom when at school. In my last year at Framlingham College Prep School Jamie Kingstone joined the school and he has been a big part in my development as a player. Before he joined I was just a good all-round sportsman. He has helped me to become a hockey player and to understand the game a lot more. He has such a depth of knowledge for the game.
Rose: No! I used to be the lazy chubby one sat on the floor at the back of the pitch waiting for the end of the session and every now and again stood up and hit the ball away when it came.
Was it always your main sport?
Archie: I enjoyed all sports growing up but was always slightly more successful on the hockey pitch, so this is probably what made me chose hockey over the others. I played football until I left my local school, and this definitely helped me to develop some skills transferable to hockey. I am a really keen golfer too, I currently have a handicap of 4 and really enjoy playing socially and a few competitions now and again at my local club Halesworth.
Rose: No I was much more keen on horse riding when I was younger but now that has to be put aside for hockey and is more of a hobby.
Are your parents sporty?
Archie: Dad played both football and rugby to a pretty decent club level until he broke his leg. He currently plays squash. Because we are both highly competitive, we have some heated games!
Rose: Our mum played a fair amount of hockey and played for the county and occasionally took dad to play in a mixed game.
Did you practice at home?
Archie: Yes, and I still do, I have managed to break a few windows and sideboards which hasn’t gone down well.
Rose: We have this barn and Archie used to try and force me to hit a ball with him or stand in the goal whilst he practised shooting but I was never too keen and didn’t usually end up going.
Who has helped you with your success – or are you just talented?
Rose: No, its definitely not my talent. Without all the help from coaches at school and club and people like Mr Kingstone, Head of Hockey at Fram College, who dedicate their life to making us all better hockey players I would 100% not be where I am today. I think Archie has also been a big part in the creation of my success through his commitment and dedication to hockey. He definitely inspired me to get better and introduced me to the whole system.
Archie: Jamie Kingstone and Tim Whiteman have had a lot to do with it. They have helped me keep on improving and developing as a player. I had a little bit of talent, but I’ve been in a good environment at school and club to carry on improving.
Do you two get on?
Rose: I think we have days when we get on really well and then days when everything Archie does annoys me but I guess that’s the same for all siblings.
Archie: The majority of the time, when we were younger we used to have fights occasionally, but we are pretty close now. We spend a lot of time travelling with each other to the camps so that’s definitely helped to bring us closer.
Who are your biggest fans?
Archie: Our grandparents! Whenever they are available they will be at our games even the furthest away ones.
How far do you want to go with your hockey?
Archie: I want to go as far as I can. I would ideally like to be able to play a really high standard abroad and in England during my career. Going to the Olympics is a dream for any hockey player so that’s at the top.
Rose: I am really enjoying hockey at the moment and I would love to go as far with it as I can but at the moment I am just going with the flow and seeing where it takes me.
What tips would you give to younger children who want to play for England?
Archie: When you’re playing or training never think about the result or what the game’s outcome means. Just enjoy it and give it your all.
Rose: I would say don’t let the pressure get to you as when you begin to stop enjoying it that’s when your performance goes downhill and you stop improving. I also think a major part of being able to get the opportunity I had was making the right impression with your work ethic and persistence. The hockey will always be able to improve but the attitude you express in order to get there is much harder to change but it really makes a difference especially for the coaches.