SIX talented young equestrians are literally flying the flag for their blossoming horse sport – horseball.
On November 3, Travis Dixon, Marlee Palmer, Ellen Anderson, Megan Reid, Sam Collett and Ben Collett will fly out to France for an international junior horseball tournament.
They will play national sides from France, Italy and Brazil in Montpellier, said team manager Richard Riggs.
Riggs, the publicity officer for the Australian Horseball Association, was also umpiring at last weekend’s national horseball championships in Tamworth’s Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre.
He is delighted to be a part of this inaugural tour of a blossoming sport in just its fourth year of existence in Australia.
All six of the Australian juniors competed as a team at the national titles and also rode for their individual teams as well.
“It’s good preparation for them,” Richard Riggs said of the championships and the up-coming tour.
“It’s been hard training for them. There’s a fair bit of distance between them all.
Dixon hails from Wee Waa, Palmer and Anderson from Narrabri and the Collett brothers and Megan Reid from Tamworth.
“Travis’ brother Dillon also plays so he’s had someone to practice with, Marlee and Ellen train together at Narrabri. And the two Collett boys, when they aren’t fighting each other,” he joked, “train together.
“Megan lives nearly up at Uralla but she’s found people to help her throw the ball.
“And the kids have raised about $3000 each, from cake stalls to raffles. We also had a sausage sizzle here this weekend.”
Horseball, he said, is “getting bigger each year”.
“Seven of us were down at the Picton Show last week,” he said of a game showcasing the sport.
“They just wanted to use one of our games as entertainment at the Show.”
While there are six players going there is a total entourage of 16.
Victor Collett is the team coach and father of Sam and Ben Collett.
He’s also been helping coach and train juniors to play the new sport.
“It’s a great game, the whole family can play,” he said as evidenced by the Mixed section at the national championships.
“It’s not as easy as it might look though,” he said.
“You’ve got to play line to line for player safety. There’s four on the field at one time with two reserves and unlimited interchange.
“It’s also about having a bit of fun.”
He said the Heinz Wolff International Under 16 Tournament in Montpellier is the “pinnacle of junior horseball at this stage”.
“They've been playing this over in Europe for many years,” he said.
“Little kids on pony’s play it, everyone can play, it's a family sport.”
o Yesterday’s report on the Australian Horseball Championships unfortunately missed the winners of the Youth Division, the Barraba team which had never competed together before. It was “thrown together” and contained Tyler Simpson (14), Matt Thompson (12), Abbey Mallise (14) as well as Tamworth’s Sam Collett and a young female rider from Quirindi the Barraba people could only name as “Daisey”.