IF winning a premiership and a state title wasn’t enough, Tamworth hockey star Sam Liles this week learnt he’s off to Malaysia in November.
Liles has been named in the 18-strong Australian team to compete in the U21 Sultan Johor Cup.
It caps a big week for the 17-year-old after captaining Oxley High to the State CHS Knockout title and helping Services Workies defend their Tamworth men’s competition title.
He played an integral role in both successes and will now have the chance to do likewise for his country.
The Malaysian trip forms part of the selection process for the Australian team to contest next year’s Junior (U21) World Cup.
Liles was named in the squad for that last month and will get the first opportunity to press his claims with the Johor Cup the first of two lead-up tournaments before selectors finalise the squad to contest the World Cup qualifiers.
The other is the Youth Olympics in Sydney in January.
“The idea is everyone in the squad will get the chance to be looked at in either tournament,” Liles said.
“I get the Malaysian one.”
He was excited about that.
It will be a chance to experience another culture, and the hockey will be world class with some of the top hockey nations sending teams.
Germany, India, Pakistan, New Zealand and Malaysia will all be involved in the tournament.
“Germany will be really good but India and Pakistan will be pretty skilful as well,” Liles said.
The tour will also be a chance to experience conditions different to anything Liles has really played in before.
“It will be pretty high humidity,” Liles said.
But a good indication of what to expect next year.
“I think the actual Junior World Cup is in India in December (2013), so that will be pretty good,” Liles said.
Pretty good was one way to describe his last week.
It started with Oxley. They were dominant in all three finals games and played some great hockey.
“Everyone realised we had such a good opportunity to win it,” Liles said.
It was his fourth time away with Oxley to the finals but the first time making the final.
Workies then made it double delight with a 3-1 win over Kiwi Diggers.
“That was really good. I thought that would be a pretty tough challenge for us. Kiwis are a really well-drilled side,” Liles said.
“Our effort showed in the result.”
“We worked a lot harder than them.”
But while school and local hockey is over, there’ll be no slowing down for Liles.
“I’ve got to almost step it up another notch,” he said.
He is currently down in Sydney for training with the NSWIS Emerging Talent Squad.