Great Britain forward Sam Duggan has thanked his club in Sweden for supporting his international ambitions.
Duggan joined Örebro HK in 2014 and has spent the last two years icing for their U18 and U20 teams in addition to representing GB at the same levels.
He was called up to the senior squad by Pete Russell for this week’s games against Norway and says Örebro have fully backed his selection.
“It’s a very big deal over here – they see it as an accolade to be playing for your national team wherever you come from, so they’ve always been so supportive of me having to go away and play with GB,” Duggan told IHUK Radio.
“We have a pretty hectic schedule with training every day and playing three times a week pretty much all through the season.
“They’ve been really helpful and supportive, so I’ve got a lot to credit them for.
“When I told Jens Gustafsson, our head of development, that I was going to be away with GB he told me ‘that’s what we wanted to hear’ so that was good. They are proud of the achievement of me getting the opportunity.”
Duggan has long been viewed as one of GB’s rising stars of the future, but admits he found the transition from playing in his homeland to Sweden a difficult one.
“Coming here as a 15/16-year-old I was quite a bit behind, because everyone else has had the training facilities, the coaches and the hours since they were children whereas in England that isn’t as available,” added Duggan.
“I had to try to keep up with the kids from countries that had the things that maybe I didn’t, so being in this environment with good players, good coaches, the facilities and being able to work out every day – I can’t put into words how much it has helped me.
“You learn and you develop weekly here. If you’re focused and you put in the work then you have the right things around you to develop you as a player and a person, so I think being here has been great for my development.
“I think the Swedish outlook on hockey, they don’t care so much if you win, lose games or make a mistake, it’s all about the development of the players and developing you to that next level, to play in pro.
“That’s what it’s all about over here, so I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
“It’s a population of around nine million here, compared to 60 million back home, and the number of players they develop through the ranks to play in the NHL or other top leagues around the world – they are really proud of that.”
While many British junior players head to North America to hone their skills, Duggan bucked the trend by moving to Sweden but he believes it was the right decision.
“My brother Tom went away and he did really well, but he ended up coming back at eighteen and he learned a lot of lessons.
“With my brother going out there and experiencing what it is like it taught him, myself and my parents a lot about that type of environment, the positives, and the negatives.
“We had some good connections here in Sweden and we heard a lot of good things from players that had played here and the Swedes that we know.
“It’s been great – I’m very happy with the decision I made and it’s very useful as a young player to develop here.”
(Image permission: Karl Denham)