NOT only is the region churning out state junior representatives in numbers but it seems it is a talent pool for masters hockey as well.
That will be emphasised tomorrow when the National Women’s Masters Hockey Championships get underway in Melbourne, with New England and Tamworth players figuring heavily in the six NSW teams.
Tamworth’s Naomi Spark will play for the Over 35s, Tamworth’s Kate Perrett and Harlequins’ Megan Davis the 40s, United’s Carolyn Beresford, Guyra’s Cyndy Slade and Ex-Servies’ Annabelle Cherry the 45s, and Guyra’s Angie Dean and Ex-Servies’ Ann Martin and Kaylene Osborne the 50s.
Margie Davis (Breakaways) will also line up with Tasmania while Jo Dolan is the women’s masters secretary and Julie Willcocks the 35s manager.
They and the 40s will both be defending their titles as will the entire NSW team the Meg Wilson Trophy as the overall champion state.
All of the Armidale contingent have been involved before at some stage, apart from Cherry.
She was selected last year but had to withdraw after suffering an injury.
Willcocks said it was “really terrific” to have so many Hockey New England representatives.
It’s the most they’ve had in teams in the one year.
The sides all trained down in Melbourne yesterday and had a good two-hour session.
They’ll have another run today ahead of their opening games tomorrow.
For Perrett it’ll be her first Masters nationals but something she’s been keen to make for a couple of years.
“I probably wanted to do it three years ago but I wasn’t able to with other commitments,” she said.
She was selected this year after impressing for Tamworth at the State Championships at Taree and then the selection trials in Newcastle.
The majority of the side is from Sydney, which has meant she’s had to do a bit of training by herself.
“I’ve been fortunate that Servies (Services) made it to the final,” she said.
“I’ve been able to train with them.”
That’s also provided some match fitness.
Perrett travels over from Gunnedah to train and play with them.
“I enjoy the sport,” she said.
“I’ve played it since I was about eight.”
Now she’s about to represent her state.
“It’s all new. I’ve got no idea what I’ve got myself into,” she said.
“But it should be a good fun 10 days.”
“I think it will be a pretty high-standard level of hockey.”
She’ll play in the backs or halves.
“For Servies I’ve been playing predominantly backs, but I have played in the halves previously,” Perrett said.
As long as it’s a defensive role she’ll be happy to slot anywhere.
The 40s face ACT first-up.
They’ll then play Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland over Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday .
Then hopefully there’ll be finals to follow on Thursday and Saturday.