By David Roberts
Olympic hopefuls Jacob Draper and Rupert Shipperley came out on top at the recent Hockey Wales awards when they were named as joint winners of the Male Player of the Year title.
Wales skipper Shipperley joined Draper in the Great Britain team this year and made his debut in February. Since then he has joined the Hampstead & Westminster star has become a full-time member of the squad.
He scored on his debut against Australia and played in all four FIH Hockey Pro League games against the Kookaburras and New Zealand. He impressed enough to earn a permanent call-up to the squad for the next six months.
“Originally the coach, Danny Kerry, said he’d speak to me when we got back from the tour, so I knew there was a decision coming – whether it would be a good one or not I wasn’t sure,” said the 26-year-old Shipperley, who led Wales to sixth place in the 2019 EuroHockey Championships.
“I felt like I played well out in Australia and New Zealand, so I was fairly confident. Even so, I was relieved and happy when I got the call!
“That was my trial and I felt like I trained and played well out there. It’s obviously one of those subjective decisions, but luckily I was on the right side of it.
“I was a little bit nervous, it was a bit like getting my first cap for Wales. It reminded me of those emotions.
“Scoring on debut is always nice – I was absolutely shattered at the time though, hence the celebration where I just stood still.”
Shipperley becomes the fourth Welsh player to be part of the central programme based at Bisham Abbey, joining Draper in the men’s team and Sarah Jones and Leah Wilkinson in the women’s squad.
The Covid-19 crisis has put paid to any further GB caps in the immediate future, with all games postponed until at least the end of June, but having broken into the squad Shipperley is just hoping he can continue to impress Kerry and his fellow coaches as he makes a late push for a ticket to Tokyo next year.
“We’ve been tracking Rupert for some time in his play for club, with Wales and then through an extended period of assessment within the GB programme,” explained Kerry.
“He brings good game intelligence, a fantastic work ethic and athleticism and a competitive edge on the pitch. His inclusion further increases the depth in our squad as we prepare for the FIH Hockey Pro League and Tokyo Olympic Games.”
Other winners at the Hockey Family of Wales Celebration Awards, which were conducted online, were Elouise Laity, who won the Senior Female Performance award and Zak Jones, who was named as Senior Performance Coach of the year.
There was also special praise for Rebecca Daniels, who carried off the prestigious ‘Anne Ellis Award for Outstanding Contribution to Hockey’.
Her achievements were revealed on the night with the following testimonial:
“Rebecca’s love of hockey started at Ysgol Glan-y-mor School in Llanelli, she then took this passion with her wherever she went, including her next educational stop at Coleg Sir Gar.
“There was no hockey team when Becca arrived but, being the character she is, she was able to enthuse her fellow students to play. She became the first captain of the college team and under her leadership, they progressed to the third round of the British Colleges Cup – a huge achievement, particularly given where they had started.
“Becca was one of the first people to sign up to be a coach at a local primary school as part of the Dragon Sport (Coach Education) initiative, she then volunteered, and played with Llanelli Hockey Club.
“Following her role as a Hockey Ambassador in Llanelli, Becca was soon “spotted” and invited to be a Welsh Hockey Young Ambassador. This resulted in her becoming a Youth Leader at a hockey camp in Holland where she looked after the Welsh team – Becca was in control, so staff put their feet up and had a holiday!
📣 👀 Head to the website to see a summary the Hockey Wales Awards and read about Rebecca (Becca) Daniels, the worthy winner of the Anne Ellis Award for Outstanding Contribution to Hockey👏👏👏🎉👇https://t.co/VoPpuhcgE4 pic.twitter.com/MCOuEnWiN8
— Hockey Wales (@HockeyWales) April 21, 2020
“Coinciding with these many opportunities, in 2008 Becca was one of 6 Young Hockey Leader Finalists invited to make a hockey promotional presentation, in Victoria (Canada) to an International Jury including FIH and FHC Executive Board Members and Staff.
“Following her time at Coleg Sir Gar, Becca travelled east to UWIC to study. Ever since, she has remained in Cardiff and now teaches PE at Fitzalan High School (Cardiff), alongside a vast amount of hockey roles.
“Her club hockey includes player, coach and umpire as a member of Whitchurch Saints Hockey Club. Manager of Cardiff & Met’s National League team, keeping the squad (and management team) in order.
“Her International credits include the role of Senior Women’s Performance Manager and prior to this she was the NAG Girls Manager.”
Annual Award Winners 2019/20
Club Coach: AJ Pingram
Club: Rhondda Ladies Hockey Club
Community Umpire/Official: Jim Marchant
Performance Umpire/Official: Chris Brewer
Contribution to Masters Hockey: Jeff Robinson
Teacher/Lecturer: Gwennan Harries
Team: Carmarthen Athletic Men’s Hockey Team
Volunteer: Margaret Jones
Young Ambassador: Ffion Ross
Young Coach: Lowri Seer
Young Umpire: Ffion Horrell
Youth Club/Section: Gwent Girls Youth
Male Junior Performance Player: Ben Wall
Female Junior Performance Player: Nell Butler
Male Senior Performance Player: Jacob Draper & Rupert Shipperley
Female Senior Performance Player: Eloise Laity
Performance Coach: Zak Jones
Anne Ellis – Outstanding Contribution to Hockey: Rebecca Daniels