Tough season looms for Paewai in league
Former international Caryn Paewai doesn't seem daunted by the big job she has taken on with Central Hockey.
She seems enthusiastic about it, even if, as player-coach of the Central Mysticks, she will be without all of her Black Sticks.
She is in the throes of setting up a high-performance programme for Central as well.
"Part of my job is to get a programme running over the summer and make it sustainable," Paewai said.
In the meantime, she is resigned to being without New Zealand players Kayla Sharland, Emily Naylor and Melody Cooper for the National Hockey League (NHL). They are among five Black Sticks not returning for the league, which starts a week after the London Olympics.
The others are understood to be Krystal Forgesson and Charlotte Harrison.
Last year the Central women finished second after losing the final in the snow at Wellington .
Sharland and Naylor will be taking a break, and Cooper will return to Adelaide. Of the former Black Sticks, Tara Drysdale, now married, is sticking with club hockey for College, and Sheree Horvath is a mother and also unavailable. So is Verity Sharland, now working at Westlake Girls' High School.
Junior Black Stick Michaela Curtis (Manawatu) will have a leading striker's role.
Paewai said she would prefer not to play.
"If required, I will, but my first priority is to coach the girls," she said. Paewai now lives in Wellington, where she has a hockey coaching business, although she is looking to move back to Central.
There are five players new to the national league.
They include Manawatu's Central under-21s, Amy Johnson, wing-half Helen Hughes and Kristy Anderson, who has come from Wairarapa.
There are also four guest players, including Englishwoman Barbara Mountain, a 29-year-old midfielder-defender who plays in Hong Kong, also in the Australian league, and was recommended to Paewai by Tina Bell.
There are also Auckland half Rebekah Williams, Wellington midfielder Brooke Young and Canterbury goalie Bridgette Allen.
"Many thought this year's NHL would not be as competitive as last year's because many of the best players would be at the Olympics," Paewai said. "But what we're seeing is that most of the London hockey Olympians are going to play."
The league starts on August 18-19 with the Mysticks playing Capital in Wellington and Canterbury in Levin. The tournament week is from August 25 to September 2.
At Rotorua on July 28-29 they will play lead-up games against Midlands, Auckland and North Harbour.
Central Mysticks: Alice Naylor, Wendy Hull, Liz Horne, Helen Hughes, Michaela Curtis, Amy Johnson, Lee-Ana Haenga, Kristy Anderson (Manawatu); Caryn Paewai, Merenia Hibbard, Lynda Coldicutt, Erin Weber, Monica McAuley (Hawke's Bay); Michelle Borren (Taranaki); Rebekah Williams, Brooke Young, Bridgette Allen (guest players); Barbara Mountain (international guest player). Reserve goalie: Soleil Fletcher (Hawke's Bay). Coaches: Caryn Paewai, Russ Tillman. Manager: Linda Berg.