Search

Islington’s Darren targets gold after Olympic call-up

PUBLISHED: 17:22 01 December 2010

Darren Cheeseman

Darren Cheeseman

Archant

IT IS a journey which began with a school visit from Arsenal, and one which Islington hockey star Darren Cheesman hopes will carry him all the way to Olympic glory.

When 24-year-old Cheesman, from Rotherfield Street, off Essex Road, scored on his senior England debut against Argentina last week, it was another step in a career which has seen him represent his country at every level.

Already an Olympic silver-medallist with the Great Britain junior side in 2007, Cheesman has now been selected for the 24-man senior squad which will go for gold on home soil in 2012.

The talented forward has come a long way since the day he was introduced to hockey, when Arsenal Football Club sent coaches from their sport in the community department into the classrooms of Rotherfield Primary School.

Now, with his first international goal under his belt and a chance to become an Olympic champion, Cheeseman is at the pinnacle of his sport, and still remembers the day it all started.

“It was a big confidence boost to score on my debut. I’d been training with Great Britain since May and played in an unofficial match against Holland, but Argentina was my first official cap and it was a big moment for me,” says Cheesman.

“I missed the last Commonwealth Games through injury, and then during the Champions Trophy I was on holiday, but looking back I think that was a blessing in many ways, I was carrying an injury so the time out gave me a chance to shake it off and relax a bit.

“Everyone is planning for London 2012. The goal is to win it, and I think that is a realistic target.

“There are not many other countries where hockey is so successful – we’re third in the world and on our day we can beat anyone.

“To walk out in front of our own fans will be something special and I want to play a big part.

“I do still look back on that day at school as the one which shaped my future. From that point hockey gave me something to do and somewhere to go, which at that age is so important.”

Under the guidance of Arsenal’s sports development officer Freddie Hudson, 10-year-old Cheesman was soon winning gold for Islington at the London Youth Games, and from there represented England at Under-14 level, all the while training every week at Arsenal and Highbury Fields.

“My whole week was pretty much taken up by hockey,” adds Cheesman. “It kept me away from things like alcohol, drugs, and gangs, I was encouraged to seek bigger and better things.

“The coaches at Arsenal helped me develop a dream of playing for my country, playing in the Olympics, and being one of the best players in the world.”

Cheesman played for his country at every major tournament and match at junior level, including four European Cups, before turning professional at 19 and signing for Dutch Premier League side Oranje Zwart for a single season, where he helped them finish fourth.

Upon his return, he was called up to the GB Under-21 squad for the Junior Olympics in Sydney, where he finished the tournament’s top-scorer to help England to the silver medal.

Cheesman returned to England to play for East Grinstead in the English Premier League, leading them to the title and, in 2008, being voted as the England Premier League Player of the Year.

He is now a passionate hockey coach, recently visiting Canonbury School and St Johns Highbury Vale to encourage pupils to follow in his footsteps, and is determined to get as many youngsters as possible into hockey.

“Anything is possible if you really want it, you don’t have to go to public school to play hockey,” says Cheeeman. “I think my background, both ethnically and in terms of my upbringing, proves that.

“That’s why I go back into Islington schools and offer coaching sessions, I want give back the same standard of coaching as I received and show that players who make it are not one-offs.

“The kids love it, it’s a sport which they are not readily exposed to so it’s a bit different.

“We just need more kids to pick up sticks and play.”

0 comments

Latest Islington Sports News

Yesterday, 22:50

Arsenal’s U23s produced an electric display to thrash Manchester United’s U23 side on Monday night, with Konstantinos Mavropanos making a solid first appearance in red and white amongst a strong Gunners team.

A strong Arsenal U23 side eased past a young Manchester United U23 side at Meadow Park on Monday evening. Read Layth Yousif’s player ratings as new first team signing Konstantinos Mavropanos made his first start for the club with hot-shot starlet Eddie Nketiah grabbing a brace as they joined a number of players who impressed.

Yesterday, 17:25

If you supported Arsenal or had an N5 postcode in 1988, it’s almost certain you’ll remember the “Battle of Highbury”.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Arsenal scored two late goals to overcome a tough Reading side and reach the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup final.

Read Arsene Wenger’s reaction to the defeat at Bournemouth including his take on Alexis Sanchez leaving the club.

Read our Arsenal player ratings from the Premier League match at Bournemouth on Sunday.

Bournemouth came from a goal down to beat an Arsenal side which were poor defensively.

Unsettled Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez has not travelled to Bournemouth on Sunday.

PROMOTED CONTENT

“With teenagers there’s a lot of banter, and you can really establish a relationship. You have to trust teenagers to make their own decisions.”

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read sport

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now