To those within the hockey community, it likely comes as little surprise that Ali Douglas is on the verge of winning his first cap for Scotland’s national hockey team. 

Douglas’ entire life has been surrounded by hockey – his mum was a Scottish internationalist, his dad and granddad were both high-level club players and his younger brother, Calum, is also a Scottish junior internationalist – and so the direction Douglas was likely to head was rarely in doubt. 

However, while the goal for the 19-year-old has long been to represent Scotland, it is only now that it is coming to fruition. 

This week, Douglas will win his first cap as part of the Scotland side that will contest the EuroHockey Championship II, which begins today in Dublin. 

“It’s really exciting. Everyone wants to get their first cap so it’s great that it’s about to happen for me,” the midfielder says.  

“I started in the under-16s and getting my first cap has been a goal for me for ages so it does feel like this has been a long time in the making. 

“I’ve had times when I wasn’t sure the effort was going to be worth it so to have all of the work pay off is nice.” 

There is greater significance to the coming week than merely what it means to Douglas’ career, however.  

Scotland are one of eight teams contesting this tournament, with the prize promotion to Division I, something the Scots dearly desire, having been languishing in the second division for several years. 

Emerging as victors will be no easy task, however. The Scots open their campaign today against Switzerland before going on to face Italy and Turkey, and to achieve their ambition, they are likely to have to overcome tournament favourites Ireland, who, with a world ranking of 13, are seven places above the Scots. 

However, with Douglas and his compatriots having recently recorded an encouraging series win against world top-15 side Wales, the Inverness native is confident the squad has a real chance of achieving their aim.

“The team is looking good,” says Douglas. “It’s a pretty new squad but things have been going well and beating Wales in our warm-up games gave us a lot of confidence. 

“It’s not easy to get promoted but going up to Division I is massively important for us. We need to start by focusing on winning our group and then we can worry about the semi-finals and final after that.” 

This tournament will be the first significant test for the recently-appointed Scotland coach, Jonny Caren, and with Douglas one of five players in the squad who will earn their maiden caps over the coming days, the experience of the likes of GB internationalists Alan Forsyth and Lee Morton will be crucial. 

But despite Douglas’ youth and inexperience on the international stage, he will by no means be out of his depth. He has made significant improvement over the past six months, due in large part to his inclusion in the GB development squad, which has moved his game on to a new level.

“Being part of GB is great and I leave every camp feeling like I’m a better player,” says Douglas. “Longer term, I’d love to make the full GB team. I know it’ll be very tough because that’s such a high level but I’d love to push for that.”