Six of Tamworth’s most talented young indoor hockey players are about to suit up for their state.
Ehren Hazell, Emily Chaffey, Nick O’Connor, Ashley Chaffey, Ryan Taggart and Amber Witney will play for NSW at the Australian Indoor Championships in Wollongong.
Witney, Ashley Chaffey, O’Connor and Taggart will be the first to hit the courts with the U13s championships getting underway on Friday, and running through to Sunday.
The U18s championships then kick in on Tuesday and will see Emily Chaffey and Hazell donning the sky blue.
Both were, along with O’Connor and Whitney, part of the NSW field sides for their respective ages.
“It was really good,” Witney said of the experience.
She’s been playing outdoor hockey for about six years and indoor for two.
“I got into indoor for a bit of fun,” she said, adding that she had no expectations of making the indoor state team.
Hazell has in contrast been a staple of both outdoor and indoor state sides since the U13s.
This year is his second in the 18s and he is hungry to win the gold after having to settle for silver last year.
“We lost in a shoot-out in the final,” he said.
The core of that side is backing up this year.
Hazell expects Western Australia to be one of their biggest challengers for the gold.
“That’s who beat us last year,” he said.
“They beat us in the outdoor in a shoot-out as well.”
He will play up front, although in indoor the roles aren’t as pronounced.
“Everyone needs to be able to tackle and score,” he said.
The nationals come at the tail of a big 12 months for the 17-year old, who late last year was – much to his surprise- named the 2016 Tamworth Sports Star of the Year.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” he said.
After a bit of a break he has just started getting back into a bit of outdoor work and is working towards making the NSW 18s and 21s sides.
“I did get picked for the 21s indoor but you can only play three nationals in one year,” he said.
Alex Taggart will also join the contingent as an umpire for the 13s.