If being offered a lucrative scholarship deal wasn’t enough, a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) hockey player has just been selected for the British University and College Sports (BUCS) National squad.
Matt Lilley, a Vice-Chancellor’s Sports Scholar and Business Management in Sport MSc postgraduate student at DMU, will represent English Universities in a BUCS home nations tournament in Edinburgh next month.
And with Varsity 2017 just around the corner, confidence amongst clubs is rising after #TeamDMU’s most successful BUCS season to date.
Matt said: “Getting selected was a massive shock for me, but I’m over the moon with the news.
“My coach Lauren put me forward for the regional trials and I ended up going straight to national trials which I did not expect.
“The trials were held in Leeds and I was just expecting to have a great experience training with some top players. I was so surprised to receive the congratulations email on Wednesday.”
This season, DMU Men’s Hockey has been competing strongly in BUCS Midlands Division 3B and are still in with a shot of promotion despite top spot looking increasingly unlikely.
They face University of Nottingham 5th on Wednesday 15 March, with a win putting pressure on second placed Oxford Brookes 3rd.
Matt said: “This season for Men’s Hockey has been brilliant mirroring the success of our clubs women’s side who have a 100% winning record.
“The squad has progressed quickly throughout the season with players putting a vast amount of trust in each other’s ability, allowing each player to play more freely, which has seen us score much more goals this season.
“The University of Leicester are two leagues above us so the competition this year is strong. However, in recent years we’ve had some close results and our squad is confident we can go out and produce some scintillating hockey and maybe even take the victory.”
Varsity 2017: 'Dare to Win' Varsity message thrown down by Vice-Chancellor
One win from history: Men's Rugby Club reach first ever final
Women's hockey team promoted after winning every match
The men’s side have never won Varsity against their rivals so a win this season would be a first and will see the club write their names into the sporting history books.
Matt, who also studied Biomedical Science BSc (Hons) at DMU, has represented the hockey club for four years and has been part of the committee for three of those four years as Captain, Secretary and Chairman.
His hockey career began when he was 10-years-old and he was soon playing at county level at 11 and 12. He became captain at 15 where he won the regional championships and came third in national finals for West of England.
Matt highlighted the ‘phenomenal’ student experience as the major factor in his decision to study his Masters at DMU.
Matt said: “Being part of the scholarship scheme at DMU has been an amazing experience for me and I couldn’t fault the support I’ve been offered in helping me with not only my sport, but studies too.
“As a scholar I feel a certain amount of pressure to perform well, but this year I have been lucky that as a striker I’ve scored freely this season with 11 goals in nine games which has been largely down to the trust in the team I have behind me.
“It’s great that DMU is giving extra support to sports men and women who are here to study, but really want to get their heads down in sport as well.”
The process started for Matt when he submitted his sports CV to the university so they could establish if he’d be suitable for a scholarship package as is the case with all scholar applicants.
Matt said: “I had to sell my story by telling them about my record of achievement.
“When I received the letter through the post telling me I’d been accepted on to the scheme, I was over the moon.”
Matt is overwhelmed by the support of the university and said: “I want to thank everyone who has believed in me during my time at DMU.
“In particular, I would like to thank my team, my coach Lauren, the Strength and Conditioning team, my academic tutors and of course my family for the last five years with DMU Hockey Club.
You can keep right across the Varsity series through Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat accounts, and follow the story using #DareToWin and #TeamDMU on social media. There’s also a dedicated Varsity 2017 webpage.
Posted on Wednesday 8th March 2017