Tamworth Public School's Rhys Mackay will wear the blue of NSW later this year after impressing for North West at the state PSSA hockey championships, which wrapped up in Tamworth on Friday.
The Year 5 student was named in the boys team to play in the School Sport Australia 12 years and under championships in Canberra in August.
St Mary's Armidale's Angus Schmude (Polding) was also selected in the side, while Peel High's Peyton Abra was selected as the student umpire for the NSW girls team.
Mackay's selection highlighted what was a strong carnival from the North West boys and girls sides.
It was a near thing for both making it through to the semi-finals, a matter of just a goal here or there.
The boys finished fifth with three wins, two draws and one loss.
"They did exceptionally well," manager Andrew McDonald said.
"We had a lot of young players. Our goalkeeper is only in Year 4."
Defence was the cornerstone of their campaign, only conceding two goals across the four days (they meanwhile scored 11). Both of those came in their only loss, a 2-1 defeat to Hunter in their second game on Day 1.
That was McDonald lamented, one that got away from them.
"We up 1-nil, and they came back to score two goals," he said.
Around that they beat Polding (2-nil), CIS (4-nil) and Sydney North (4-nil), and drew 0-all with Western and South Coast.
McDonald said it was great for the kids to have the opportunity to play in front of a lot of family. A number of their games were also livestreamed.
He is excited about their prospects for next year with six of the side eligible to play again including Mackay. That he is only in Year 5 added to the achievement of making the state side.
"He's done very well," he said.
Playing at centre-half, he said he controlled the game well for them.
Sam Rodgers (Tamworth Public) was also "very solid at the back", and was his MVP.
"The other thing I was super impressed with with our kids was they'd finish a game and then go up and help with the barbecue," McDonald said.
"Everyone commented on their sportsmanship and the way they carried themselves on and off the field."
The girls finished ninth but were very competitive, notching three wins, two draws and two losses from their seven games.
"It was a bit frustrating to be honest. The girls played so well," manager Kate Frizell said.
Their two losses to Western (3-nil) and Polding (1-nil) on Day 2 were what hurt them.
They were well in both, Frizell commenting that they "had a lot of control of the play".
"What was frustrating, was the girls were all over them, they played much better hockey," she said.
But they just "couldn't finish".
Aside from their wins over North Coast (1-nil), Riverina (4-nil) and Sydney East (4-nil) the other highlight was holding eventual runners-up South Coast to a 1-all draw.
Frizell said it was a really good team performance and she found it hard to single out just one player for the MVP. She ended up giving out two awards, to goalkeeper Lila Straw (Tamworth Public) and Charlotte Williams (Quirindi Public).
"Both were in the team last year, and they just lifted so much and were both leaders in the team," she said.
"They got everyone talking and everyone gelling".
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