Scotland are currently in the midst of hosting EuroHockey Championship II – and the Scottish Celts are no strangers in hosting world class hockey after the Commonwealth Games 2014 where hockey was played in Glasgow, which has been home of hockey ever since. The men in blue are hoping to use the home advantage and the incredible Scottish crowd to spur them on even more to an array of wins in order to increase their ranking and aim towards the sparkling sands of Commonwealth Games 2018 set at the Gold Coast, Australia.
According to the BBC participation in hockey in Scotland has increased by 50% since the creation of the National Hockey Centre in Glasgow. Scotland Men and Women are hoping to further increase this already astonishing figure (10,000+ and counting) in participation by showcasing their talents to local and international visitors over the coming week.
Scotland Men’s squad are by no means strangers to hard work and using grass roots grit and determination to ensure that their hopes and dreams become a reality. The Blue Sticks aren’t as fortunate as some international teams when it comes to funding. They took to crowdfunding, which has always been a powerful and inclusive way of funding sports men and women’s ambitions, which helped them along their international journey to play in the World League Semi Finals in London previously this year.
Scotland are playing in Group A, against France, Portugal and Ukraine, hoping to reach the finals where victors and runners up will be promoted to the top tier.
Here at Scoop we are always happy to catch up and have a chat. We were excited to have the opportunity to speak with David Forsyth, who plays along his brother Alan, and discuss the EuroHockey Championship II, his humble beginnings and what it really takes to play international hockey in Scotland.
Let’s start right from the start, I have seen recently on Twitter the sweetest #tbt picture of you when you were younger playing hockey. When did you first pick up a stick and thought ‘this is what I want to do when I grow up’?
I’m sure there is a picture of me only weeks old holding a hockey stick, but I first went to jockey hockey at Kelburne when I was 5. Born into a hockey household it was part of growing up so it felt like a part of normal life. I just thought everyone did it.
Ah, a true hockey family! What has been your biggest challenges whilst reaching international level?
I’ve been a bit unlucky with injuries I had 3 years in between my 1st and 2nd cap. I had a serious knee operation in 2011 which refrained me from playing for 1 year and when I returned, I was offered a career opportunity in Holland and moved to Amsterdam 5 days after their transfer cutoff date so during that time I had no hockey at all however still wanting to play international hockey made it a little more difficult to be offered a position within a team.
I’m sure that was a very frustrating time. In that case, what has been your biggest achievement?
The biggest achievement so far with international hockey is playing in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. It’s something I’ll never forget.
Season 2015/2016 I won the league with Qui Vive (my club team) where we were promoted to the Hoofdklasse the highest league in Holland and what most people say is the best league in the world. That was a special feeling winning on a golden goal. That was my first club success away from Kelburne who I’ve won numerous National titles and cups.
That sounds pretty awesome! You also seem to enjoy some team bonding. Tell us what you guys do to strengthen that team spirit?
We don’t get a lot of time together so when we do, it’s normally getting as many minutes as we can on the pitch, but it’s also important to have a non-hockey team activity because there are some guys you only see at hockey so it’s nice to do something out with and see them in a different light showing another side of their personality. We’ve been go-karting, bowling, and recently went to the escape rooms.
Escape Rooms are absolutely brilliant. I’ve done 6 now – escaped them all, haha. What other sports do you enjoy outside hockey?
I enjoy most sports to be honest. Any major sporting event, I’ll follow if it’s on television. I used to play Tennis and Golf but between work and hockey I don’t have much time to do other sports.
Would you say your team mates are some of your closest friends?
Yes, playing in the national team with Alan, my brother is always special. Now living away from each other it’s nice to see him more and play alongside him. Kenny Bain is my best mate whom I met when I was 5 at hockey training and we’ve been best friends since, we used to work together then we lived together and we have the same friends group. Most of the boys I’ve played with at Kelburne or through the National age groups, we’ve grown up together so they naturally become really good friends.
What have you been doing in preparation for the EuroHockey Championship II tournament?
It’s been a busy year so far, World League 2 in Belfast, World League 3 in London and now Europeans in Glasgow. We haven’t had the opportunity to train much before any of the World Leagues due to funding issues and we’ve managed to have 3 training weekends together in the build-up to the Euros. There’s a lot of responsibility to train yourself.
For the past month I’ve been working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in Amsterdam, fly to Glasgow either Wednesday night or first thing on Thursday morning, then train Thursday, Friday, Saturday and fly back to Amsterdam on the Sunday then do it all again the week after.
Wow, that’s such a busy schedule! What does it mean to you playing hockey in front of a home crowd?
It’s incredible, I love it! After experiencing Glasgow 2014, slightly different crowd capacity to what the Euros will be like. It’s really nice to have your friends and family watching, well, mainly my Mum because the rest of my family are in the team so their always at the games! I feel even more proud when it’s on your home turf.
Who do you think will be your biggest challenge?
All tournaments are challenging, but we are our own biggest challenge. We know we can compete with the best teams and on our day we can beat every team at this tournament.
Whilst growing up I’m sure it was difficult to see many hockey role models in the media. How do you think this has changed?
To be honest, I don’t think much has changed. The success of the GB girls has definitely helped raise the profile of hockey in 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but it would be nice to see a successful Men’s team and have male hockey players in the media. The biggest platform is social media nowadays and you can choose to follow which players or teams as you want. It would be nice to see more hockey in everyday sports news to raise the profile of the sport. We are role models to the younger generations of hockey stars but media exposure is limited.
What more do you think the sport can do to increase awareness of hockey, especially for men’s sides?
I’d love to see hockey and other small sports become more mainstream, just a little more recognised in the media. Having home events definitely helps, it gets people talking even if they aren’t going to watch at least they know it’s happening and the more people hear of something the more they’ll try it or become more intrigued. A lot of it comes down to money and funding.
What is your biggest aspiration?
Win EuroHockey Championship II and play in Commonwealth Games 2018.
Best of luck! Fingers crossed for you. What else do you do as well as playing hockey?
I work full time in eCommerce for Adidas. I Spend time with my girlfriend Victoria, and socialise with friends. I’m quite a sociable person!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Good question, I think I’ll still be living in Amsterdam, don’t think I’ll be playing hockey.