Morton planning to help Scotland join the Euro A teams7 August 2017
Glasgow’s Lee Morton believes Scotland has its best chance yet on getting into European hockey’s A division as Glasgow hosts the men’s EuroHockey II Championship this week.
Scotland has been in the B division for the past five championships and got agonisingly close to qualifying last time around.
“The last one was a tough one,” admitted 22-year-old Morton who has just finished a degree in Criminal Justice at the University of the West of Scotland. “And very controversial because we got a goal disallowed that changed the game.
“We’ve always got to the semi-final and never been able to get that next step. The B division is hard and you always have teams that can kill a game.”
Scotland started the tournament with a tight win against France in yesterday’s opening game and the likely scenario is the team will qualify from their group along with the French, whilst Russia and Wales are expected to progress from the other section.
“Two teams from each group will go to the semis, then you need to win the semis and that’s you promoted,” Morton continued. “There’s no added incentive for the final, you have already qualified and got promoted.”
Morton provides a pivotal role in the team and not just in his position as striker. Having played his formative years in striker-rich Scotland in midfield he is almost equally skilled in both positions.
“I tend to see myself as a guy who can do both,” he explained. “From playing midfield I know when the right time to shoot is and the right time to pass.
“So I wouldn’t say I’m all about goal scoring, and I don’t think I score hundreds of goals, but I can find that balance.”
Morton’s prodigious talents have not escaped attention outside Scotland and he was recently selected for the GB Development Programme with a view to the 2024 Olympic Games.
The timing could not have been better for Morton who finished his final year of university this summer and was going abroad, possibly to Holland, to develop his hockey career.
He admits things seem to have just “fitted into place” and is thrilled that being a full-time funded athlete will give him the opportunity to see just how far he can go.
“I was at the University of West Scotland and just graduated so now I’m free to move down south,” said Morton who was one of 150 students supported by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships programme for student athletes.
Morton received funding support and the academic flexibility required to perform at the highest level in sport and studies.
Eighteen Scottish universities and 25 colleges form the Winning Students network with the programme being funded by the Scottish Funding Council. Students at network colleges and universities benefit from a dedicated co-ordinator to ensure they can balance their studies and sport effectively.
“The university was pretty flexible when it came to sport and they recognise you are doing something serious,” he said.
“This being the fourth year and having dissertations made it a lot tougher than other years but they’ve been pretty spot on such as extending deadlines, so it’s been ideal to manage.
“Winning Students gave me a grant for the past two years which paid for travel and accommodation; the little things you wouldn’t necessarily think add up but actually do and could become a hassle.
“So the Winning Students and university grants are just massive and without them I probably wouldn’t have been able to get through the year.”
With education now behind him and a degree in the bag, Morton can look forward to a future which could include next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and a possible Olympics further down the line.
Although right now, the main aim is to help Scotland finally move out of the Europeans group B.
“This year we have had one of the most successful years and we qualified for World League 3 for the first time,” he said.
“Before that we were fortieth in the world and we’ve now got to 23, which is a big rise.
“It brings a bit of added pressure for the Europeans because we really want to get promoted.
“And it’s a tough thing to do but based on how the year has gone, this is the best chance and the best group we’ve had in a long while so we will be looking to get that final place and then get in the A division.”