A SPORTS star who swapped his football boots for a hockey stick has followed up fifth place at the Tokyo Olympics with GB by helping the Wales men’s team to a first ever World Cup in their 128-year history.  

Jacob Draper, who first played hockey at Monmouth Comprehensive School, even scored at the tournament in India, firing a stunning top corner rebound against the hosts during a penalty corner to draw the game level at 2-2 to shock the partisan 15,000 crowd.

Wales ultimately lost out 4-2 to the hockey mad nation to end their run in the tournament following losses to England and Spain.

But bearing in mind that Jacob is just one of three professional players in the Wales squad, which includes students, teachers and a financial analyst, the achievemnt of just making the 16-nation tournament is a huge milestone.    

Indeed, he could be playing professional football instead of hockey after being part of the Cardiff City academy set-up from the age of seven.  

But at the age of 13 when and Cardiff coaches told him he was spending too much time playing the other game, he chose to stick with the stick.

“They found out I was playing hockey and they weren’t too impressed,” Jacob told sportwales (www.sport.wales).

“Even at the age of 13, in football you are contracted and you can’t do other things in case you get injured. 

“Playing hockey comes with some risks attached and they were not happy.

“They basically suggested I make a choice between the sports and I chose hockey.”

Two Commonwealth Games, an Olympics and a World Cup later, and the 24-year-old is convinced he made the right choice, even if the Wales squad had to crowdfund their way to India, unlike any of their rivals.

“Football is incredibly competitive so that even boys who were the best in their districts, the best among thousands of other boys, never really make it,” he said.

“When you’re a child you gravitate to what you enjoy. You have no other motive at the age of 12 or 13.”

And on playing for Wales instead of GB, he says “it feels a lot different”.

“I’m a very proud Welshman. I was born and bred and raised in Wales. It was obviously an unbelievable honour for me to go to the Olympics. 

“It was my long-term goal and it probably came to me sooner than I expected.

“But there’s also a different mentality. With Wales, singing the Welsh anthem is different. It gives me shivers and every time I hear it, I’m ready to go to war.”