Saturday, July 20, 2024

‘When I got the Paris Olympics nod, I looked and realised my kids don’t care!’

Dad-of-two says fatherhood has transformed his outlook on hockey ahead of Paris 2024. Tom Harle reports

Phil Roper’s first daughter Indie-Rae was born six months before his Olympic hockey debut at Tokyo 2020 and the family welcomed Luca into the world in October 2023.

The 32-year-old made the cut in the 16-strong Team GB squad for the Games but heads to the French capital with a different motivation.

“It’s definitely a challenge to be a Dad and train for an Olympics,” said Roper, “but it gives me an amazing amount of perspective.

“As soon as I get home, I’m just Dad again and that’s done amazing things for me.

“When I got the email saying I was selected, I looked around and realised my kids don’t care. They’re happy to see me, have fun and play.

“I’ve always dreamed of going to the Olympics again but I know that if things go wrong, I can come home and have a cuddle with my kids and my amazing wife.”

Phil Roper, middle, during GB’s opening win against South Africa at Tokyo Olympics REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Head coach Paul Revington has overseen a transformation in the team, instilling an attacking philosophy and leading England to the final of the EuroHockey Championships.

“Revs has done incredible things for a lot of guys’ confidence and belief,” said Roper. “He wants us to play an exciting brand of hockey and that’s what we want to do – to play in a way that fans can get behind and people enjoy watching.

READ MORE: Paris 2024 Olympics: Hockey schedule, match fixtures
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“Thankfully, I’m probably one of those players who has benefited because I like having the freedom to go and try things, to score great goals and make nice actions.”

All games will be played at the refurbished Stade Yves-du-Manoir – the only venue that will have featured at both the 2024 and 1924 Games, having hosted the athletics a century ago.

“It’s important not to get too far ahead of ourselves but we know we’re tracking in a really exciting direction,” said Roper. “There are a huge number of teams operating at a high level at the moment – but we’re one of them, and there’s a lot of belief in the group that we can go and do something special in Paris.”

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