ORGANISERS are touting this year's Kim Small Shield and York Cup hockey tournament's as "the best ever" after a record turn out of competitors.
Junior players from around the state flocked to Tamworth to take part in the seventeenth annual three-day-long tournaments.
Competition convener Graeme McKenzie attributed the event's success to the "hard work of our volunteers".
"There is a lot of people out here, who have put in a lot of work to make this happen, which is fantastic," McKenzie told the Leader.
"For me, seeing how everyone at Tamworth Hockey pulls together to put on such a great event is a true highlight of the weekend."
McKenzie said this year's event had surpassed 2018 as the biggest Tamworth had ever hosted.
"This is the seventeenth event we have hosted and it is the biggest," he said.
"Last year we had 49 teams competing and this year we have had 50 teams, which is a great legacy for the York and Small families, who the competitions are named after."
McKenzie said the opening of the Northern Inland Centre of Sporting Excellence would help make 2020's event even bigger.
"The opening of a third pitch for us means we can continue to expand the event," he said.
"We had the official sod-turning yesterday, so it is exciting times for hockey in our region."
NSW Hockey president Craig Colvin said the event was pivotal to "the development of so many people" involved in the game.
"The beauty of this event is, it's not just the players who benefit from it," Colvin said.
"Our umpires, coaches and mangers all learn and grow from this event.
"It is one of the most anticipated events on our calendar and it's fantastic to see it continue to grow."
The youngsters will now turn their attention back to their weekly competitions and grades.
"One thing that is fantastic about this event is watching how much all of the kids have improved when they return to their normal teams," McKenzie said.