Big year ahead for father and son

HOCKEY

MATTHEW Willis can’t believe how lucky his father is.

The 22-year-old Australian player was home in Tamworth for a few days this week after Hockey NSW had taken the chance to fly the talented young Kookaburra back from Perth to help coach at an Under 15 Development Camp in Newcastle last weekend.

“Getting paid to do what you love,” Matty Willis laughed.

“He’s loving it.”

A greenkeeper by trade ,Willis senior has left the employment of the South Tamworth Bowling Club after many years.

“I can’t believe it,” Matty laughed.

“It’s going to be interesting for him, very different to being at the South Tamworth Bowling Club. It’s the perfect job for him. He’ll be doing what he’s been doing with these guys for years.”

“These guys” were a group of talented young players running through drills organised and supervised by the likes of Richard Willis and Greg Doolan.

Indeed Greg, ever easy-going, laughed about moving out of camera range so he didn’t break the lens while The Leader snapped a picture of Matty during a quick break.

The 22-year-old Willis enjoyed the chance to train with some of the city’s best young players.

He also enjoys bringing back new coaching drills and skills for the local players to see just what the elite Australian men’s and women’s teams are doing.

“We have a lot of good kids coming through Tamworth,” Willis said. 

“Some are away at various camps at the moment. It’s great that I can come back and show the kids some of the things we are doing. Some of the new drills we do at the top level that we work with all the time can only help the kids here.”

He enjoyed the State Under 15 boys development camp in Newcastle last weekend and a few days in Tamworth this week.

Now it’s back to Perth “where it all happens”.

Last year was a breakthrough year for him when he was able to make his Australian debut.

“That was pretty good and I got to play the Super Series in Perth.

“But it didn’t finish as well as I would have liked.

“I missed selection for the World League.

“We’re back in training now. Twenty of the top players have been over in India playing in their Hockey League, just like the IPL (cricket). 

“This is a big year.

“There’s a Malaysian tour in march. I’m hoping to get selected for that and then there is the World Cup and Commonwealth Games.”

An attacking midfielder when he left Tamworth for Perth Willis is now a defender or midfielder.

“I’ll play wherever they pick me,” he said.

Now finished a town planning degree he’ll wait and see what unfolds with his hockey.

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