Teen joins NZ women's Black Sticks squad

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 13:48 07/12/2012
Georgia Barnett
DAVID DUNWIN/Fairfax NZ
PADDED UP: Georgia Barnett relishes defending the goal against opposition attackers.

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Had Georgia Barnett not snapped her anterior cruciate ligament, she might never have picked up a hockey stick.

That was three years ago when football was her sport.

In quick time she has become part of the wider New Zealand women's squad and will join the Black Sticks on Monday for their two tests against India in Palmerston North.

She was told to take a year off after the injury, but was back ready to play after five months.

Instead of football, she was steered towards hockey, went into goal and in no time was picked for the New Zealand team to the Youth Olympics in Singapore alongside fellow Palmerston North Girls' High School player Michaela Curtis.

"At first soccer was still my thing," she said. "Then I started to appreciate hockey a bit more and I enjoy it more now and can't imagine playing football any more."

"It has been quite a rollercoaster in terms of how quickly it has all happened."

It seems obvious that she should play in goal considering her father Simon Barnett's Palmerston North firm, Obo, makes hockey goalkeepers' protective gear and exports to 62 countries. She works there part-time doing their online work.

"It had nothing really to do with him, me being a goalie," she said, before qualifying that. "Maybe having Dad in the business did influence it a bit."

She tried it out for a laugh when at Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School, and at Girls' High in year 9 was in the school's second XI, before football took over.

Georgia has no fear in goal. The Obo gear mostly does its work with the ball coming at her at great velocity.

"I get a bruise occasionally. There's always a few gaps and somehow the players are able to find them."

Defending the penalty shootouts is "one of my faves". Being quick and agile, she can dash out and chase the shooters.

This year when she was looking to fill in her summer, Cindy Forsyth at Girls' High directed her reluctantly towards cricket, and inevitably she ended up with the pads on behind the stumps.

"Maybe I need to have keeper in my name," she laughed.

Until Sunday she is playing for the Girls' High first XI in the national schools finals in Palmerston North before joining the Black Sticks on Monday.

Early next year she hopes to go with the Junior Black Sticks to their World Cup qualifying on the Gold Coast. Later she might trek to the Netherlands to play hockey and receive goalkeeping coaching.

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