WHILE Tamworth’s Matt Willis, Kate Jenner, Hollie Webster and Steph Purdy and Armidale’s Cody Tribe and Georgina Morgan were involved in Australian Hockey League semi-finals yesterday, Tamworth’s next Waratahs and Arrows prospects were being put through their paces by Judy Laing.
Laing is the NSW Institute of Sport/Hockey NSW Emerging Talent Squad (ETS) coach and up in Tamworth for the weekend to help out with the Northern Inland Academy of Sport hockey program selection trials and work with some of Tamworth’s talented young players.
“Usually I come up a couple of times a year,” Laing said.
Generally it ties in with the NIAS selection day, and she runs a couple of sessions with the Emerging Talent Squad players.
“It’s enjoyable being able to work with talented kids,” she said.
Tamworth certainly has plenty of those.
Just last weekend Andrew Finch, Isaac Farmilo, Antony Doolan and Alice Arnott were selected in the NSW U15 sides for next year’s indoor nationals in Tasmania.
All four also played for the NSW U15 field side.
They were among those training with Laing yesterday.
Farmilo is also part of the ETS program along with Dana Constable, Sam Liles and Ashley Ninness.
“I enjoy going to the athletes’ home locations,” Laing said.
“It’s important to do. You become familiar with what’s available to them.”
She said the Tamworth players were lucky to have coaches the calibre of Richard Willis, Andrew Farmilo and Greg Doolan to train with.
“It’s a good player base,” she said.
She has been coming up to Tamworth since 2007 and has got to see the likes of Jenner, Webster and Willis progress.
They’ve all been part of the ETS program.
“It’s a camp-based program,” she said.
“We usually have five camps.”
They had one back in September and will meet again in February next year and, from what she’s seen, the talent pool in NSW is certainly in good shape.
“The U15 boys and girls both won nationals, the U16s boys and girls won the nationals, the U18 boys won and the U18 girls were third.
“In my opinion NSW has probably got the biggest nursery of hockey players in Australia,” Laing said.
That age success though hasn’t quite been mirrored at opens level, although the women are in title contention after accounting for Queensland 2-1 in their semi-final in Perth yesterday.
Morgan scored the Arrows’ opener to give them a 1-nil lead at half-time.
Earlier the men went down to defending champions Western Australia 3-1 in their semi-final in Canberra.
Tamworth’s Kimmy Hill is also over in the west and playing with Tasmania while Tom Lobsey has been drafted into the ACT men’s side.
They beat South Australia 3-2 yesterday to set-up a play-off clash for fifth and sixth with Northern Territory today.