ABOUT 100 New England youngsters will be honing their hockey skills and learning more about the game at clinics in Tamworth over the next couple of days.
The Hockey New England clinics will cater for players from six through to 18 and cover all aspects of the game.
The first clinic this morning will be for Under 9 players.
Then, starting this afternoon and continuing tomorrow, it’ll be the 13 to 18-year-olds turn.
Northern Inland Regional coaching co-ordinator Blair Chalmers is running the clinics on behalf of the local association, and said they’ve got about 30 players signed up for the Under 9 clinic and more than 60 older players.
They’re pretty pleasing numbers and include a few that haven’t played the game before.
“The U9s is a Hockey NSW clinic run by the local association,” Chalmers said.
“The second clinic is funded by NSW Sport and Rec.”
Chalmers will be assisted by his NSW U18s assistant coach Liam Dixon, who is coming up from Sydney, and a couple of Sydney players.
It has been a busy few weeks for Chalmers.
He’s been over in Perth for the past week watching son Darby play for the NSW Blues at the Under 15 Nationals.
Before that he coached the 18 girls Blues at the nationals down in Melbourne.
They performed very well finishing seventh overall.
“We were in a pool that had the NSW 1s, also Victoria 1, Western Australia and Tasmania,” Chalmers said.
On top of that they drew gold medallists Queensland in their cross-over game.
That was their only real blow-out and was largely on the back of the drag-flicking expertise of Maddie Fitzpatrick.
Other than that result there was only a couple of goals in it and they finished off the pool component with a 3-2 win over Victoria.
What made their efforts even more satisfying was that 11 of the 18 were stepping up from the 15s last year.
“It was a big jump for them to go to the U18 nationals and perform the way they did,” Chalmers said.
“In the end we were only four points off a semi-final berth.”
Armidale’s Katrina Rekunow was part of the side while Tamworth’s Alice Arnott and Dana Constable played for the 1s.
They were unable to make it back-to-back titles going down to Queensland 5-2 in the final.
The boys suffered a similar fate falling 8-2 to Queensland to also take home the silver.
Tamworth’s Issac Farmilo, Chris Ninness and Josh Worpel played for the 1s while Antony Doolan lined up for the Blues, who finished fifth.
NSW fared better at the 15s nationals winning both titles.
The boys side with Tamworth’s Ehren Hazell in it defeated Victoria to claim the honours 4-3.
Em Chaffey and Abigail Doolan and New England’s Tahlia Constance also picked up gold with the NSW girls but were pushed to a shoot-out by Queensland after scores were locked at 1-all at full-time.
Kate Reynolds’ Blues side meanwhile finished sixth as did Chalmers’ boys side.
He was joined by Tamworth’s Jeremy Blakely, Brady Curry and Mitchell Lewin.