RISING hockey prospect Alex Chihota believes a recent Commonwealth Games ‘Immersion Camp’ as part of the trailblazing Team England Futures programme will be ideal preparation for a future at the top level.

The 18-year-old from Ilminster, who is swapping Repton School in Derbyshire for Loughborough University in September, also has faith the Team England hockey sides are set for a productive Commonwealth Games.

Chihota is part of the Team England Futures programme, which will see over 1,000 talented young athletes and aspiring support staff given the opportunity to attend the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, watch live sporting action and take a first-hand look behind-the-scenes.

And Chihota is well on his way to making Victoria 2026 having been selected for GB Men’s Elite Development squad in January.

“To be involved with something like this is quite exciting, just to see it all before you actually have to do it,” said Chihota, speaking at a Team England Futures Immersion Camp in Loughborough, where athletes and support staff had the chance to meet each other, visit Kitting Out and experience workshop sessions on topics such as working with the media, mental wellbeing and anti-doping.

“Here there’s no pressure. So then when my time comes I know what I went through and I know little steps and tricks to help take away that pressure.”

Being part of the EDP squad means Chihota has already had the chance to meet current Team England members who have given him plenty of useful pointers and tips.

Chihota added: “They’ve told me just to treat matches like a normal hockey game and don’t get worried about who you’re playing or that you’re playing an international game, just to reduce that as much as you can.

“They’re a lot more confident in what they’re doing. They’re more sure of themselves and they know what they’re good at and what needs work on. They’re just a different class really.

“I’m excited to watch the hockey, to see how the men and women do in front of a home crowd and the work they do off camera.

Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

You can find out more about the programme by visiting https://www.sportsaid.org.uk/partnerships/team-england-futures/.