Despite returning from last weekend’s World Championships without a medal, Drennan Team England have been the most successful international team of the past decade with five world titles to their name - but many are concerned for the future.
The current squad is packed with experience, depth and talent to secure more golds in the coming years but there are concerns about what’s coming through on the international front, not regarding ability but related more to the lack of exposure to the skills needed and ways of international match angling.
New World Champion Sean Ashby is one of those who wonders what the future will hold, having seen first-hand the chasm in difference between the UK scene and that held abroad, something he fears will see the England team in a couple of decades time short on anglers familiar with what’s needed to win medals at international level.
“There will come a time when the current side retires and the next generation comes through,” Sean said. “We’re lucky that we have several good anglers currently on the circuit who are comfortable in fishing to international rules and can make the step up but what happens after that? Steve Sanders has spoken about how at under-18 level anglers have never fished with pole and bait limits in the UK. I can’t see where that experience is going to come from if that continues.”
The likes of Tommy Pickering when he managed the England Ladies team have said much the same thing and Steve, who leads the Sensas Under-18 side on world duty, is of the same opinion. Despite his team still winning medals, he’s always looking ahead to the next generation coming through.
“The system is not there in the UK to allow them to come through with the experience needed,” said Steve. “When we go to the World Champs the lads are up against anglers that only fish matches to international rules so for us to win a medal is unbelievable when effectively, the whole of the team is fishing an international rules match for the first time. The desire and ability is there but the opportunities aren’t. A start would be to have the Angling Trust Junior Nationals fished to these rules or at least float only so we can expose them to what’s needed in those anglers that do come through to England honours at an early age.”
For the full interview with new World Champion Sean Ashby, see the issue of Angling Times on sale September 25.