Hard work pays off as Birch makes National League debut

David Birch.
David Birch.

University of Cumbria student, David Birch, made his debut in the England Hockey North Conference League for Preston Hockey Club on Sunday, although his team were beaten 5-1 by Olton and West Warwick.

David first started playing hockey at his secondary school in West Sussex at 15 years old, before moving to the Lake District, where he joined Lancaster and Morecambe and spent three years.

The summer before starting his Coaching and Sports Development degree, he decided to make the move to Bowdon, a well-known premier club in Sale, Cheshire.

During his time at the University of Cumbria, David coached the men’s first team for two seasons, captained them for a year and is currently chairman of the society.

He had to take a year out of club hockey due to a wrist injury which required two operations – the problem has still not been resolved, leaving him with only three to five years left of his playing career, before the final operation.

As a result, he made the decision to take a step back from university hockey to focus on reaching the National League.

Coming back to the game after a summer of running, strength and conditioning, David made the decision to move to Preston HC.

After seven weeks of playing for the seconds, he was rewarded with a call up to the first team in the English National League North Conference.

David said: “The National League is the highest tier of English hockey, where it has Olympic and international players competing within it.

“To reach this level took me a few years, so to finally reach it is a massive relief and achievement.

“The speed and intensity of the game is what I’m looking forward to most, and pushing myself to show I’m good enough to compete at the level.”

David plans to see out the English season as a National League player for Preston.

Following graduation, he has received offers to play club hockey in Australia, in a similar league to the National League.

He hopes to develop his coaching as his injury means he won’t have long left as a player, but for now plans to keep learning and stay involved with the sport.