Wales will welcome back GB players Jacob Draper and co-captain Rupert Shipperley for their first men’s World Cup campaign in India, against the backdrop of their history-making players paying to compete at the sport’s showpiece event.
Wales announced their 18-strong squad on Thursday, with a three-way captaincy in place in Luke Hawker, Wales’ most capped male athlete Lewis Prosser and Shipperley.
Hockey Wales chief executive Ria Burrage-Male admitted that commercial investment had proved “challenging” despite its national men’s side creating history in qualifying for the World Cup and inking a shirt sponsor for January’s tournament.
Hockey Wales is seeking £25,000 to cover flights, accommodation and meals in Rourkela and Bhubaneswar. This is nothing new for its players, who usually put their hands in their pockets to pay for their country at major tournaments.
Burrage-Male, who is organising the crowdfund, said: “Hockey wants to build on the momentum of the Football World Cup and ensure Wales remains a strong figure on the global stage.
“Public funding can only stretch so far. This is a very difficult time for our society… a pandemic and now a cost of living crisis. However, we do not believe any athlete should pay to play for their country.”
Draper and Shipperley return to the squad after competing for GB in the recent Pro League matches gainst Argentina and the Netherlands, while Wales played in a six-strong World Cup warm-up event in Cadiz.
Wales head coach Danny Newcombe said: “Our squad has improved dramatically across the two weeks. Our recent preparation tournament in Cadiz provided us with the best possible preparation as we know that nothing replicates playing against the top teams in the world. Whilst incredibly challenging, the game play was essential for us to be ready to perform in India.
“Selection for this tournament has been an incredibly tough task. It is a testament to the quality of our squad that we are in a position where we must leave incredibly experienced and talented international players back in the UK.
“I know this squad will carry the responsibility of playing for their nation with great belief, passion and pride at a level that only a team from Wales can. I am excited for us to take our place on the biggest stage.”
Wales take on England, conversely the best-funded nation in hockey, in their opening match on Jan 13 before a pool game against hosts India at the already sold out 20,000-capacity venue in Rourkela. England also announced their squad on Thursday.
Wales are not the first national side to fundraise at major competitions, with Canada crowdfunding at the 2018 World Cup in India, while South Africa men did the same for their Tokyo Olympics campaign.
Wales Men’s Hockey World Cup squad:
Toby Reynolds-Cotterill, Rhys Payne, Gareth Furlong, Daniel Kyriakides, Hywel Jones, Ioan Wall, Steve Kelly, Lewis Prosser, Dale Hutchinson, Jacob Draper, Gareth Griffiths, Rhys Bradshaw, Rupert Shipperley, Fred Newbold, Ben Francis, Luke Hawker, James Carson, Jack Pritchard. Travelling reserves: Rhodri Furlong, Jolyon Morgan
To support Hockey Wales head to their Go Fund Me page