TAMWORTH will have four young players at this weekend’s Australian All Schools under 16 Hockey Championships in Adelaide.
Tamworth teenager, Jack Cruickshank, has been a late addition to the NSW Under 16 boys’ side and joins NSW Under 16 girls’ representatives Alice Arnott, Em Chaffey and Abigail Doolan in the national tournament.
The four young hockey players were all at the Tamworth Hockey Complex yesterday for an intensive Accelerated Athlete Program session with NSW high performance coach Richard Willis and state director of coaching, Warren Birmingham. Willis and Birmingham had conducted similar sessions in Armidale on Monday – former dual Olympian Birmingham adding plenty of knowledge and expertise to Willis’ AAP program.
Birmingham, 52, originated from Coraki (near Lismore). Moved to Sydney when he was 16 and then into the AIS before playing for Australia for 13 years, earning 200 caps and two trips to the Olympics.
Along the way he played some 160 internationals with Tamworth’s former Australian skipper Michael York and the likes of Des King, Garry and Scott Jennison, John Woodley and Richard Willis in various NSW sides.
As NSW Hockey’s director of coaching he is determined to develop and grow the AAP program throughout regional NSW.
He also wants to enhance the roles of the RCCs (regional coaching co-ordinators) such as Armidale’s Blair Chalmers.
“What we have here is a seriously good group of young players with very good core skills but we also want to make them into very good citizens as well.”
Birmingham is also the NSW Arrows coach and is hoping Tamworth’s Kate Jenner, who injured her shoulder in training before the Commonwealth Games semi-final, returns home today in good shape.
“I want to find out first just how significant an injury Kate has suffered,” he said.
“She was injured last year and missed the NHL with the Arrows as well.He’s hoping she will be right to go to Brisbane with the Arrows squad in October that also contains the likes of Armidale’s Georgina Morgan and Tamworth’s Hollie Webster.