All eyes on Dublin for Hockey World League18 November 2016
Having qualified from round one of the Hockey World League in September, Scotland’s men are working hard to break into new territory when Dublin hosts the second stage of the competition in March.
“In this tournament four years ago we made it to round two but did not progress to round three,” said University of Edinburgh student Dan Coultas, the team’s centre back whose goalscoring prowess from penalty corners helped Scotland qualify from the first round in Glasgow last September.
“But we had a tough group last time with Belgium and Canada, as well as Poland and France.
“This time all the teams in our group are ranked in and around us. France, Poland, Austria, and Ukraine are all ranked better than us but are all teams we can beat and have beaten in the last few years.”
Scotland has a young team, with seven of its players making their tournament debuts in the first round at Glasgow.
But 27-year-old Coultas, who played for Scotland in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, believes “it’s as strong a squad as we’ve had ever.”
Whatever the outcome of the World League – and Scotland needs a top two finish to progress to round three – the team will have a further opportunity next August to set a new bench mark when Glasgow hosts the EuroHockey Men’s Championships II.
“Trying to qualify for the Europeans A division has been our focus for a number of years,” continued Coultas.
“We’ve made the semi finals twice in the last three tournaments and come third each time, winning the bronze medal. It's always close.
“That is our aim this summer and we’re hoping it will be the year for us to do it, and to do so at home in Glasgow.”
Coultas, who is studying an MSc in Strength & Conditioning, is one of 148 students supported by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships programme for student athletes.
Through the programme he receives funding support and the academic flexibility required to perform at the highest level in sport and studies.
Eighteen Scottish universities and 25 colleges form the Winning Students network. Students at network colleges and universities benefit from a dedicated co-ordinator to ensure they can balance their studies and sport effectively.
Studying part-time, Coultas is able to juggle a number of jobs – including coaching Edinburgh Academy’s boys’ first team and being the lead S&C coach at Merchiston School’s tennis academy - alongside his own hockey commitments. In addition, the financial support from Winning Students goes a long way.
“We pay our own expenses and we are based in Glasgow,” added Coultas. “So, as I’m based in Edinburgh, there’s a huge amount of driving back and forth.
“So, more than anything else, the support of Winning Students is a big help with my travel.”