Big year ahead for hockey
A clear path for aspiring young players and hosting top provincial teams are part of exciting developments for Marlborough hockey players heading into the 2013 season.
Marlborough hockey development officer Tony Haswell has confirmed that on Queen's Birthday weekend up to eight teams will be playing and training at the College Park turf in Blenheim as they prepare for their respective representative programmes.
The Capital men's and women's national hockey league teams and possibly the Canterbury men, plus their under-21 and under-18 sides, will be here, providing Marlborough players and supporters with an opportunity to see top-quality action and the latest training methods.
Capital is part of a new Hockey New Zealand structure to regionalise provinces such as Marlborough. Haswell stressed that Capital was not just Wellington but included Marlborough, Wairarapa, Buller and Nelson.
Several Marlborough players have been trialling for the Capital under-18 and under-21 teams during the past few days, namely Gabriel and Reuben Kepes, Sam Solly, Matt Collingwood, Libby Smith Kapralos and Emily Wallace. The teams are likely to be announced before the end of this week.
At Queen's Birthday weekend, the visiting teams will play matches against each other. Several Marlborough players will be invited to play, as well as any already selected in Capital teams.
Marlborough's top coaches will be assigned to visiting teams, taking a full part in training and during matches. Haswell said this was a great opportunity to gain valuable experience in the latest methods and tactics.
The coaching group comprises Ben Walsh, Claire Davies, Simone Silcock, Alan Sprosen, Malcolm King, Vinnie Redwood, Clay Wilson, Denise Lloyd, Blair Walker, Rosie Lamain, Emma Burrell, Danielle van Voorst van Beest, Roz Leov and Haswell.
Haswell's coaching skills have been recognised by his appointment as Capital under-18 girls' coach, while former Marlborough representative Kelvin Read is in charge of the boys' under-18 side.
Marlborough's aspiring Black Sticks begin their pathway to the top at senior club level, moving up to the Marlborough rep team and then Tasman, which leads to selection in the various Capital age-group sides.
Haswell said the Queen's Birthday visits were part of a push to have regular high-quality hockey in Blenheim. He was also confident that former Marlborough player-coach Chris Leslie, the Black Sticks women's assistant coach at the London Olympics, would continute to visit after a successful coaching stint here last weekend.
The successful merger of Marlborough and Nelson into Tasman teams which competed very successfully at the nationals last year is set to continue. Tasman were second in the women's competition, and the men were third.
Haswell said a great thing about those teams was how quickly and how well the players from both provinces gelled and formed close-knit units.
The nationals will be in Auckland from August 26-30.
Starting dates for the Marlborough club season have yet to be confirmed, but traditionally it hits off in April.
- The Marlborough Express