FOR Ella Mitchell and Mitchell Scott, the chance to represent their state was an unexpected opportunity, but an opportunity they are looking to take with both hands.
The Tamworth duo secured their places in the NSW under-15 and under-13 national indoor championships sides with impressive performances at November's state championships.
Now the pair will take on some of the country's best players at the annual national championships at Illawarra later this month.
Scott said his selection "came out of the blue".
"They [Hockey NSW] announced the teams on their website after the state titles in November," Scott told the Leader.
"I was really excited when I found out I had been picked - I screamed for joy.
"To be honest, I don't really know what to expect, but I'm excited to get into it."
The annual tournament will mark the duo's first appearance in NSW colours, a milestone Mitchell said she "never really expected".
"I was really pleased, happy, excited and surprised I had been picked," Mitchell said.
"Selection in a squad like this was never really on my radar, so to make the squad was really pleasing.
"I'm really looking forward to representing my state."
Both young defenders have starred in outdoor hockey for Tamworth and are looking to carry that form over to the indoor game.
"I'd say we're both in the minority in terms of country players in our squads," Scott said.
"It's very special to be representing country NSW, I never thought I'd be able to do it.
"Representing your state is always special and to be one of only a few country-based kids in the team is pretty special too."
Scott said the duo had experienced an interrupted preparation due to the Christmas break.
"We found out we had made the squad in late November, but we only started training a few days ago," he said.
"There is quite a few big differences between indoor and outdoor hockey.
"Indoor is a lot faster and has a lot more running, despite being a smaller field.
"Hopefully, I can pick up my fitness and sharpen my skills ahead of the tournament."
Mitchell said she and Scott would be striving "to hold our own" during the tournament.
"I think it will be a great experience and a good chance to improve my skills," she said.
"Hopefully, it will be a bit of a learning curve for me and a good chance to improve both my indoor and outdoor skills.
"My goal is to be as fit as I can and stand my ground against all the other players."
The under-13 championships will run from January 18 to 21, while the under-15 championships will run from January 22-26.