At the end of July, Lilleshall National Sports Centre hosted the DiSE Cup. This event showcased the talents of Year 12 performance hockey players enrolled in England Hockey’s Diploma in Sporting Excellence (DiSE) programme, where they engaged in competitive matches against each other and the U16 England teams, providing an exciting display of hockey.
The DiSE programme, governed by Sport England, is specifically designed to support young hockey players while they pursue full-time education alongside this complimentary programme. This collaborative effort between England Hockey and Loughborough College offers a comprehensive curriculum: occasional camps that encompass a display of technical and tactical training and personalised one-on-one sessions to work on portfolio projects, following a programme of presentations and lectures.
It serves as an invaluable platform for aspiring athletes to refine their skills, evolve as hockey players, and lay the groundwork for a promising future in the sport. The main goal of DiSE is to provide players with the chance to blend sports and education, equipping them with the necessary skills, knowledge, and qualifications to pursue a dual career.
As the year of DiSE comes to an end, numerous players passionately conveyed their appreciation for the programme. They expressed gratitude for the valuable opportunities it provided, praising the efforts of the tutors and coaches who supported their growth in both sports and education.
“The balance in this program was surprisingly manageable, making it a fantastic experience that opens up amazing opportunities even for those who don’t play hockey at school,” one player remarked. Another player expressed delight, saying, “Having access to a nutritionist and psychologist was a great addition to the programme and has enhanced my overall development as an athlete and individual.”
Players were full of praise for the DiSE Cup, considering it a great way to wrap up a year of hard work. The competitive matches provided an excellent chance for them to showcase their understanding of the knowledge and expertise they have gained throughout the year.
Dieter Hill, England Hockey’s Junior Talent Development Manager, expressed his enthusiasm about the competition. He highlighted the event as “a brilliant opportunity to provide valuable experience to the players enrolled in the DiSE programme. The inclusion of the England U16 teams, fresh from their 8 Nations experiences, added an extra layer of excitement and challenge, allowing all participants to test their abilities to the fullest.”
The DiSE Cup this year featured closely contested games. The tournament featured four squads on both the boys’ and girls’ sides, consisting of the White, Blue, and Red teams, along with the U16 England teams. Each team had the chance to play one match each day over three days, allowing them to demonstrate the technical and tactical knowledge they have developed with their DiSE coaches throughout the year. It was an exciting opportunity for the players to display their progress and development on the field during the tournament.
Despite the rain, the tournament provided a highly positive way to conclude this year’s cycle. Both coaches and players expressed their satisfaction with the experience, noting how it enhanced their understanding of the game in a more professional context. The collective hard work and individual improvements led to some exciting and well-played hockey games, making it a memorable event for everyone involved.
In the Girls’ competition, the England U16 Girls emerged as the triumphant team, while the England U16 Boys claimed the top spot as well, having lost out in 2022. The tournament witnessed some intense and hard-fought games among all the teams, showcasing their remarkable skills and determination, making it an overall successful performance for all.
Head Coach of the England U16 Girls, Don Vinson, expressed satisfaction with the team’s performance, highlighting their consistent and tenacious circle defensive work that led to their success. He also praised the team’s technical development in the offensive line, which contributed to their ability to score numerous goals.
Head Coach James Culnane, in charge of the England U16 Boys, commended the squad for their fantastic collective effort, noting how they remained true to their playing style, showcasing a free-flowing and attacking brand of hockey throughout the three days.
Overall, both teams displayed impressive skills and teamwork, making the camp a positive and successful conclusion to the season.