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Inline hockey is in safe hands

A STUDENT who was named as the country's best young goalkeeper in inline hockey is making a bid to compete in the world championships.

Adam Summerfield, 17, has already netted a silver medal at the Junior Olympics in Detroit earlier this summer in the fast, physical sport that resembles ice hockey on rollerblades.

He made it to the United States with the support of South Cheshire College, where he is studying for a Btec national diploma in sports development. His college helped to pay his air fare with a pound;200 contribution from its fund to support gifted students.

He now hopes his form will bring him to the attention of selectors for the under-18 world championships next year. "I think it's going to be difficult. There's quite a good standard of players, but I'm quite confident," he said.

"I've enjoyed playing hockey for more than seven years now and I'd like to go further in the sport if I can. This experience has whetted my appetite even more."

But the Junior Olympics, in which 12 countries competed in inline hockey, also showed how far he has to go: in the final, Canada put six shots past Adam, with the British team only able to respond with two goals.

"It was hard, and the standard was very good," he said. "But I enjoyed it a lot. The result didn't really reflect the game it was much closer than that.

"Detroit was a brilliant experience and one I'll never forget and to represent Britain was unbelievable I'm really grateful to the college for helping me turn a dream into reality."

His lecturer, Graham Coffey, said Adam would bounce back from the disappointment of the final and make it to the world championships. He said: "We are really proud of Adam, who is a very talented hockey player. He has what it takes to go all the way in the sport."

Adam began playing when he was 10. He followed some friends to his local club, Manchester Warriors. The team needed a goalie and Adam volunteered.

Last season, he helped the club to win the national championship and earned himself selection in the league's "dream team" for the year. He was named best player in his position.

"You need to be fast-moving and have fast reactions as well as good balance and co-ordination," said Adam, who also plays ice hockey and hopes to play professionally in the future. He said his course had helped him to improve in his sport, particularly in understanding more about leadership and how to organise his defence. "It's helped me understand the game better," he said.

Other aspects of the sport are less cerebral, however. Goalkeepers are heavily padded because they need to throw themselves into a clash of bodies, sticks and the fast-moving puck, using any part of their body to prevent a goal.

He said: "When I started off I had to be quite brave, but now it just seems normal. It doesn't seem quite as stupid to get in the way of everything now."

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