Selection for England Under 21s in India
Pailton’s James Simpson is representing England Under 21s at the Junior Hockey World Cup in Lucknow, India which started on Thursday.
Just back from playing in the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia, where he was vice captain, the 21-year-old is looking forward to this next challenge, which is held every four years, involving 16 countries and showcases the best up and coming hockey talent from around the world.
Being the top competition in U21 hockey, many of the players will hope it is another step towards representing their country at senior level.
England’s first Pool match was against South Africa, followed by a match against the hosts India on Saturday. Their final pool match is against Canada on Monday (December 12).
Other teams they could face include Australia, Germany, Holland, Spain, Argentina and Belgium.
The former Bilton Junior School pupil, who was coached there by Dave Thompson before moving up to Princethorpe College where he captained the first team, and was coached by Colin Dexter said: “Competing in the Junior World Cup has been a goal of mine for a long time, so it means an awful lot to have made the team.
“I am focused on doing my best to return with a gold medal.”
James, who started playing the sport when he was seven years old, comes from a hockey family - his father Andrew, brother Alexander and twin sister Carmen all play.
His sister Lauren and Mum Tina are strong supporters from the side lines. His grandfather Bill was also a hockey player.
James started his hockey career at Coventry and North Warwickshire Hockey club and shortly after with Rugby Hockey Club, when their junior programme started.
His first success was winning the national Under 9s tournament at Beeston. He worked his way up the teams at Rugby hockey club, playing for the Men’s 1st XI at the age of 15.
After a few seasons at Rugby he moved to Olton and West Warwickshire to play in the National Conference, where he was coached by ex Great Britain captain Michael Johnson.
He gained a place to read history at Kings College London and made his début in the National Premier league for Hampstead and Westminster, for whom he is still currently playing.
He also captains his university team.
James played for Warwickshire, captaining the U14 squad, then the Midlands, being a member of the squad that won the regional U14s tournament at the age of 12.
He moved into the England hockey single system playing at England Hockey’s High Performance Camp (HiPAC) and Junior regional performance centre (JRPC) where he was selected to play for the U16 England squad.
Since then James has continued in the England single system, playing for the U18s and winning the European Four Nations tournament in Holland.
He has represented the U21s for the last three years, winning a European bronze medal and gold at the Sultan of Johor Cup in 2015.