Locals host state champs

TOP TIER: Oscar Shepheard was part of the Hockey New England division one team who finished 10th. They were up against tough sides including Newcastle and Illawarra.
TOP TIER: Oscar Shepheard was part of the Hockey New England division one team who finished 10th. They were up against tough sides including Newcastle and Illawarra.

Hockey New England finished as a winner at the under 13 boys state championships on the weekend with a hugely successful tournament. 

The local association hosted 36 teams from all over NSW in four divisions and, despite mother nature’s best efforts to dampen the occasion, the championships were hailed a success. 

New England fielded two teams, a division one side, who finished 10th and a division four team, who finished 6th.

Carnival organiser Peter Lye said despite Saturday’s downpours there was no criticism from the hundreds of participants. 

“The feedback from Hockey NSW has been really positive and from parents and players,” he said. 

“The facilities we have got here at the Hockey New England centre are some of the best in regional NSW and maybe even metropolitan NSW.

“The feedback I was getting back from parents is their experience in Armidale was a really good one, they had a great time. 

“People found accommodation and had a good time in Armidale while they were here at the championships which is really important because if we wanted to look at hosting other championships, it is not simply the facilities we've got, it's what we can offer in terms of the location.”

Lye said there was one standout which defined the carnival in true Armidale-style. 

“What was really a memorable moment that was relayed to me is our New England boys were playing on grass [Sunday] morning and you could barely see to the end of the field for the fog and it was very wet and the boys were having a great time sliding around in puddles and the next minute a kangaroo jumped across the field and that summed it up, we had everything over the weekend.

“The main thing is all the kids enjoyed it and go away with a positive experience with hockey and also with Armidale.”

Prior to the weekend’s event, Hockey New England hadn’t hosted a state carnival for an extended period of time. 

The smooth running and praise for the recent tournament ensure the local association will put up their hand to host another state championship in coming years. 

“We are looking at putting in an expression of interest for a championship next year,” Lye said. 

“After this experience we will definitely look at applying for the under 13s again. 

“We couldn't host this without a strong association and what this has shown us is we have got that and people are willing to help out.” 

From their performances across the weekend, New England players Tyler McCann and Hayden Schumacher were named in the state team when it was announced on Tuesday.