Matt Barnett held his nerve to help take England under-18s to an impressive silver at the FIPSed World Junior Angling Championships.
It was Barnett’s first call up to the international stage and, despite not participating on the opening day of the two-day event, he went on to impress and aid his England team-mates to a highly-commendable second spot.
The competition took place on the river Sava, in Slovenia, and was eventually won by a strong Slovakia team.
Day one ended with England on 16 points and Slovakia on 17.
But a superb second day from the eventual winners saw them finish on 25, with the English team second on 36.
Barnett, backed by his Milo Bordon club, had to watch the first day but considered the decision beneficial to his development.
‘It was disappointing not to get the call up for the first day,’ said Barnett, who was picked at the tender age of 15.
‘But having not fished an international match before, it was a good experience to watch.
‘I learned so much during the week and will continue to do so.’
When given his chance on the last day, Barnett landed 113 fish with a total weight of 4.514kg. But Slovakia’s extraordinary effort saw them steal a march and snatch gold.
Barnett was not down, though, as he thanked his team for their tremendous support.
‘I enjoyed every minute and despite not be able to catch a bonus fish I just got my head down on small fish,’ he said.
‘The support I’ve had from all around me has been brilliant.
‘I’d like to thank everyone including tackle firms Milo, Daiwa, Preston Innovations, Sensas and Bordon Angling Centre and, not least my dad, Shaun, who has been a tower of strength.’
England under-18s manager, Steve Sanders – and his assistant Joe Roberts – masterminded the plan that came so close to taking gold.
By balling in chopped worm and caster in a mix of Sensas River & Terre de Riviere, the team caught several species including nase, bream and the odd carp, using worm and caster on the hook.
Even though he missed out on a team gold, Barnett is hoping his performance in Slovenia can keep him in the England frame with the next championship in France.
‘Now I need to look ahead to next year’s championships,’ he said.
‘I have got to concentrate on keeping my place – it will be hard, though.’