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Feature: What It is Like to be Selected for Your Country Whilst Studying at Birmingham
Redbrick Sport spoke to current Maths PhD student and part-time UoB lecturer Alex Tisbury about being called up to the England Dodgeball squad last month
Every aspiring athlete grows up dreaming of representing their country, but getting a chance to do so while still studying at University is an opportunity that comes round once in a blue moon.
But that’s exactly what University of Birmingham PhD postgrad Alex Tisbury experienced recently, after the Mathematics student received a call-up to the England Dodgeball Squad last month.
And there was an added sense of satisfaction for the 24-year-old, who narrowly missed out on a place in the National team in 2015.
“We found out by email, I literally didn’t know what to think,” he said. “I had been training for this for so long, it was such an honour."
“I’ve played a lot of sport my whole life but this is probably my greatest achievement.”
Tisbury (affectionately known as ‘Tiz’), who can include a multitude of sports on his resume, first caught the bug for Dodgeball in his earlier days at Birmingham, but the sport itself was not a recognised society when he began his undergraduate degree in 2010. “I played golf, cricket and table tennis as my main three sports growing up, so I have always had the hand-eye coordination which is very important for the catching side of dodgeball"
"I started playing in my fourth year of University, which is three and a half years ago now... that is not long, but dodgeball is a fairly new sport, a lot of people who play internationally now have only just really got into it themselves, the first European championships weren’t until 2010."
“There are so many others with a UoB connection who are involved with their National squads doing really well too.”
“'I literally didn’t know what to think, I had been training for this for so long, it was such an honour'
After selection heartbreak twelve months ago, part-time lecturer Tisbury learnt his lessons for 2016 and said a change in the environment of the trial day helped to turn the tide in his favour and launch him into the squad for the coming months. “It was a lot more fun and enjoyable this time round and I think that probably helped me get through, because it is so much easier to play your best when the atmosphere is conducive to it."
“The trials work in two parts. There are open trials for those people not currently in the squad and then if you come through those there are closed trials, which are little more tense as people are playing for their positions.”
Dodgeball may currently be undergoing a rules shake-up in an attempt to make the sport a world phenomenon, but Tisbury is just hoping there will be no changes regarding his own position among England’s elite any time soon.
“The goal now is to try to stay in the squad,” he said. “You have to re-trial every year so now I am in the squad I shall have to go to the closed trials next year and play for my position again, which will obviously be really tense.”
However, it was an inauspicious start to his National career for Tisbury, as he watched his teammates lose from the side lines for the first time in years at last weekend’s UKDBA Six Nation’s Championship final on Merseyside, as England Men picked up a silver medal.
Several other current and former UoB dodgeballers were also in Liverpool competing at the event and a list of the successes can be found below.
Holly Edmunds (ENGLAND Women's)
Lottie Millington, Evie Ford, Dan Koenig (ENGLAND mixed)
Nick Kinsey (WALES mixed)
Eugenia Page Hewitt (REPUBLIC OF IRELAND Women's)
Article by Thomas Dodd