THE North West is continuing to prove a nursery for hockey talent.
Over the next couple of months, almost 20 junior players from Tamworth and the New England will represent NSW at either U13, U14 or U15s level.
They’ll be stretched the expanse of the country – Perth, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Canberra and Coffs Harbour.
After representing NSW at the Australian U16 All Schools Championships in Hobart, Tamworth’s Alice Arnott will be off to Perth late next month for the 15s’ nationals.
They run from September 28-October 5.
At the same time, Will Turner will be up in Darwin playing in the boys’ championships, Tayla King the 13s girls’ nationals in Hobart and Addison Coutman the 13s boys in Melbourne.
The Australian Hockey League (AHL) will also be on down in Melbourne then and at the same venue as the nationals.
Tamworth’s Matt Willis and Tom Lobsey will be playing for the NSW Waratahs in those.
“That will be pretty inspiring,” Tamworth coach Richard Willis said.
Another 15 will be involved with either the 13s, 14s or 15s Blues sides.
The Blues concept is relatively new and will see the players train for a few days and then play against an inter-state opponent.
“It’s the second year that’s happened,” Willis said.
For the 13s and 15s anyway. The 14s is new again this year and features a lot of players between the age groups.
It’s a reflection of the depth of talent in NSW.
“There’s a lot of quality athletes in the Blues who just missed out (on the state side),” Willis said,
And would probably make most of the other state teams.
Through the Blues, they still get exposed to the experience of playing with and against different players and of a similar standard, and learning off other top-line coaches.
The biggest North West representation is in the 13s and 14s girls’ sides.
Tamworth’s Emily Chaffey and Abigail Doolan and New England’s Tahlia Constance and Bronte Walsh will play for the 14s and Tamworth’s Sophie Beaven, Kate Reynolds and Rebecca Willis, and New England’s Sarah Askey the 13s.
In the 13s boys is Toby Whitten (Tamworth), 15s girls Tessa Pennefather (Tamworth), 15s boys Jack Cruickshank and Matt Sing (both Tamworth) and 14s boys Tamworth’s Jeremy Blakely and Ehren Hazell and New England’s Darby Chalmers.
They’re off to Canberra and will play against the ACT and Victoria.
The 13s and 15s are headed up to Coffs and will face their Queensland Blue equivalents.
The Tamworth contingent has all been training of a Thursday afternoon at the state team training sessions on top of their regular club and school practice.
Willis runs those with the help of the likes of Andrew Davy, Greg Doolan and Simon Massey, who is the assistant coach of the U15 boys.
It’s not just the juniors doing well.
Massey is also off to New Zealand next year after being selected in the Australian Country men’s side.
Kimmy Hill made the women’s, while New England’s Brittany Parker was named in the U21s side to tour Fiji later this year.
Hill’s Services team-mate Kate Perrett has also been selected in the NSW Masters Over 40s side.