No Aggro from the Touchlines. Simply Turn Up and Enjoy; POST SPORT FOCUS ON HOCKEY
Byline: Gareth Bicknell
LEE IBLE knows hockey in North Wales will always come third at best to the region's traditional favourite sports, football and rugby. But the Wales goalkeeper - who is also the regional hockey development officer for north east Wales - is making it his mission to recruit as many youngsters as possible to the game.
The 26-year-old from Bagillt in Flintshire plays for Brooklands MU, who are based in Manchester and compete in the Premier Division of the English Hockey League.
Hockey runs in Ible's family - his father played for Chester and got him into the sport, while his sister Gemma is a Great Britain international and plays for Clifton in the Bristol area.
And with the Olympics coming to Britain next year, he is keen to press his credentials for the rest of this season and next in the hope of joining his sister in the British squad.
"I've got a chance, along with a few other people," he says. "Playing in the Premier League and playing internationally gives you that opportunity.
Wales' Lee Ible "I think I'm capable of getting a chance to be in the squad - obviously if the opportunity arose, even just to be in the squad would be a great experience."
Ible is based at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, which was due to make its own contribution to the British Olympic effort this April by hosting a round of the Great Britain Super League - until the venue was switched to Cardiff earlier this month.
The tournament, which is contested between regional teams from across the UK, is used as a selection opportunity for the Great Britain squad. It was due to be hosted by Glyndwr University - which has one of the finest hockey facilities in Wales - but was moved down south due to a lack of accommodation locally.
"A lot of people aren't very happy about it," says Ible. "It's a blow because it would have been a big thing and a lot of people were looking forward to it."
While North Wales has missed out in that respect, Ible is still doing his bit for the future of the game. Part of his job is to improve opportunities for youngsters in north east Wales who want to play hockey, and on Friday he and Great Britain rising star Andy Bull are holding a coaching day at the university for children aged between seven and 18.
So, how would he sell hockey to anybody looking to take up a new sport? "Hockey is a fast, exciting and sociable team sport that anyone can enjoy," he says. "The social side of it is one of the aspects I enjoy the most - most of my friends I know because of hockey.
"It's an enjoyable team sport. It's not as physical as football or rugby, but men and women can play in mixed games on a equal footing, and it's more technical because you're using a stick. …