Hockey star Matthew, 4, picked for GB

Matthew Harness
Matthew Harness

A young ball hockey player from Giltbrook is set to represent Great Britain in an under-9s world tournament - despite only being four-years-old.

Matthew Harness will travel to Slovakia in April having been picked by GB to play in the competition at the purpose built AAA Hockeyball Arena in Zelina.

He is now aiming to raise the funds to help cover the costs of the trip, with the sport, which is a variant of ice hockey, not receiving any central funding.

Matthew, who attends Brookhill Leys Primary School in Eastwood and plays ball hockey for the Nottingham Huskies, hopes to raise at least £500 through a crowdfunding page online.

His mum Natalie says he has been crazy about ice hockey for as long as she could remember.

She said: “He used to use his grandmother’s walking stick to play when he was just ten months old.

“He’s travelled far and wide around Europe watching Nottingham Panthers, including to Basel in Switzerland for the Champions League with me and his dad, Michael, last year.

“He absolutely loves it and far prefers to watch it on TV rather than kids programmes!

“He’s totally fearless and it worries me sometimes but he gets so involved and has been training with kids six or seven years older than him since he was three, although he’s not necessarily big for his age, he’s just talented.

“I imagine he’ll progress to ice hockey when he’s old enough and keep playing for as long as he enjoys it.

“His dad has played hockey in charity games and so on but not to any kind of level so it’s something Matthew has done independently.”

Insurance reasons mean youngsters can’t take up ice hockey until they are five-years-old, and ball hockey not only offers younger players the opportunity to take part but is also a growing sport for older players too in the UK.

Natalie added: “It’s not as big here but in mainland Europe it’s massive, as emphasised by the fact they build arenas especially for it in some countries.”

Matthew trains once a week and there are league meetings held once a month in Sheffield. A national tournament runs all year with a final held in Gateshead.

His team, Nottingham Huskies, are part of the Nottingham Wolves Ball Hockey Club setup.

If you would like to donate to Matthew’s crowdfunding page, visit HERE