A SCHOOLBOY is following in the footsteps of his uncle by making great strides in the ice hockey world.
Dexter Mansfield, 11, will make his debut for England Under 13s next year.
The youngster, who goes to The Deepings School, has been selected to represent his country at the Quebec International Pee Wee tournament in February where among the thousands of spectators will be former Peterborough Pirates star, Doug McEwen.
McEwen played a huge part in getting the youngster interested in the game before helping develop the talent that has made the pint-sized forward one of the hottest prospects in British junior ice hockey.
However, after moving back to Canada when his playing career ended, ‘Magnificent Seven’ McEwen has not had the chance to watch his nephew play competitively for more than four years.
Dexter, of Langtoft, said: “I am obviously really pleased to have made it into the England team for the first time, it is a massive honour and I am really excited to be going to Quebec.
“It will also be great play in front of uncle Doug again. My first ever game of hockey was watching Doug play and he has really helped me a lot with the game.
He was over here playing for Cardiff Devils in their legends games against Sheffield Steelers when I found out the news and he was almost as pleased as I was. I cannot wait for the trip and for the chance to show Doug how far I have come on over the past few years.”
While McEwen has undoubtedly played a big role, most of the credit for his stunning progress must go to Dexter himself who has worked hard to transform himself into a player of international class.
Late night training sessions at rinks up and down the country and weekly road trips to Nottingham to play club hockey demand levels of dedication rarely seen in most lads of Dexter’s age.
But all that hard work has at last paid off and Dexter has made the grade, but making the plane could be an entirely different story.
“It can be difficult in ice hockey as there as so few rinks that me and my dad have to travel all over the place to get ice time and it often means playing really late at night, but it is worth it,” added Dexter.
“But the more I seem to improve, the more it costs and while being picked for England is the best thing, it is also very expensive.
“There is no funding at all which means we have to pay for the kit, equipment and all the travel and accommodation costs ourselves which I know my dad is finding hard to do.
“So hopefully we can find someone to sponsor me for the trip. It would mean so much to me and I am pretty confident I could score a few out there to pay them back for their support in goals.”
Anyone interested in sponsoring Dexter can contact his dad Steve on 07796 032820.