David Ames proving football's loss has been hockey's gain

David Ames 2020FIHPL
David Ames is widely regarded as being one of the best players currently gracing the world of hockey.

But if things had turned out differently when he was younger he could have ended up playing on the green grass of a football pitch rather than water-based astro turf, as he explained on the Ian Sloan Hockey Podcast.

As many young children are, Ames was mad about sport growing up in Cookstown, Northern Ireland. He was particularly obsessed with football and from very early on harboured ambitions of making it as a professional. 

He even had some of the biggest clubs in England circling around him, only to be told he didn’t have the physical prowess to make it to the top.

When you see him now, towering over and outmuscling many of his opponents, you can’t help but feel that football’s loss has certainly been hockey’s gain.

“Being a footballer which was definitely something in the pipeline when I was younger,” the 29-year-old said on the first episode of the Ian Sloan Hockey Podcast. 

“From about the age of five all I wanted to do was play football. There was nothing else that really interested me. 

“I got some trials for Preston North End, I was on their books for about a year on a scholarship, flying in at weekends when I was around 13 or 14. Me and another guy would fly over at the weekend, play some matches, fly home and go to school on the Monday. 

“Chelsea came calling at one point, Aston Villa came calling at one point. But both of those came pretty much as I stopped playing football properly and carried on the hockey route. 

“It was a lot to do with my growth spurt. I was really, really tiny when I was younger and the outcome was that I would probably never make it as a footballer because I was too small, too skinny. 

“That sort of killed the dream which, when you look back now and how much money they’re making it’s quite a lot more than us, is a shame!”

Ames has since represented England and Great Britain Hockey on 93 occasions, won three international medals and appeared at a World Cup and an Olympic Games.

What makes this achievement even more impressive is that, up until his mid teens, Ames had barely even played hockey.

“I was 15, that was the first time I’d really picked up a stick properly,” he said. 

“My best mate’s dad coached the U15 team and they were stuck one Sunday. I was there to watch and ended up playing and it started from there. 

“It was very quick – 15, 16, 17 I blossomed into playing a sport I’d never done before. I genuinely have no idea how it happened. It obviously helped having been sporty all my life and being to take different aspects of sport but when you look at it like that it shows how far I’ve come. Not many people who play at international level only start when they are 15-years-old. 

“Mum wasn’t massively into that hockey – she played a bit but wasn’t really into it. My brother is a very good hockey player as well. But it’s all down to who I’ve been coached by. 

“I’m also a bit of a geek so I studied a lot when I was younger and went to watch as much as I could. I remember mum taking me to watch the Europeans in 2007 in Manchester, the EHL in 2007 and 2008. Just spending the time watching the top players doing their thing and picking it up really quickly.”