HAVING previously pitted his wits in front of the cameras for Dragons’ Den, Wellington’s Tom Carson is confident he can handle the pressure when he makes his World Cup debut today.
Former Wellington School pupil Carson and a business friend appeared on the BBC TV series last September, securing £75,000 investment from entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne for their clothing brand Young Ones.
It would be an offer they would eventually turn down for business reasons but Carson is hoping to draw on the experience when it comes to the World Cup in the Netherlands, with action taking place from this Saturday to June 15.
The 23-year-old only made his England debut last summer in a three-match series against Belgium but will soon find himself on the world stage as his team bid to finally get their hands on the trophy at the 13th time of asking.
And while admitting to feeling the weight of expectation, the forward intends to rise to the challenge.
He said: “I went on Dragons’ Den with a friend about six months ago which was an exciting and nerve racking experience.
“We got an offer from Duncan Bannatyne but since then we haven’t taken it forward because we didn’t want to give up that much of the company.
“I’m trying to figure out whether playing in a World Cup final will equate to those sort of nerves I got on Dragons’ Den.
“In a hockey match you can make a mistake but then you get a chance to redo it. But being in that studio you get one chance and if you blow it at the start then they’re not going to take you seriously.
“I still think of myself as someone quite new to the squad. I only joined the group less than 12 months ago.
“There’s a weight of expectation on me I suppose to keep going and keep performing because I’ve not got a lot of caps under my belt. But I’m looking forward to it.”
England open their campaign against Spain on Saturday before further Pool A games against India, Malaysia, reigning champions Australia and Belgium.
The top two teams progress to the semi-finals and with a bronze medal in January’s Hockey League World Final already in the bag – courtesy of victory over Australia – Carson is confident his side can more than hold their own.
He added: “I think if you’d asked us six months ago we’d have said the World Cup was something we were just looking to go an compete in.
“We’re ranked outside the top three so a medal isn’t the priority but with the improvements we’ve made we want to compete and win medals.
“We’ve got as much a chance as anyone else and if we play our game then I have no doubt we can win medals.”
NOW: Pensions are an auto enrolment pension provider and partner of England and Great Britain Men’s Hockey. Follow @NOWhockey or go www.nowpensions.com