Festival opportunity for young players to learn

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Control. . . North Otago’s Lachlan Wright brings the ball back to the grass against Southland in a Wakatipu Shield game. PHOTO: DAVE BOYLE/SPORTS IMAGES NZ

North Otago was treated to some top-tier Under-18 hockey this weekend.

The North Otago Hockey Association hosted the Wakatipu Shield Boys Under 18 Festival involving North Otago, Otago and Southland in Oamaru. Central Otago was forced to withdraw due to Covid-19.

The festival had no winner, in keeping with Hockey New Zealand’s ‘balance is better’ philosophy.

Sports development officer Ethan Booth said it was a good learning curve for promising North Otago hockey players.

”It was really cool to have him in Oamaru. It was really good for our boys to see the level of hockey that’s probably next for them,” Booth said.

“It was a really good challenge for those guys, in particular.”

North Otago played Otago and Southland on Saturday, and played a North Otago men’s team on Sunday to give it another game.

It was the first time the North Otago Under-18 team had come together which meant they hadn’t practiced, but new coach Mark Holthusen was excellent at bringing the team together, said booth.

”He brought knowledge to these boys that they . . .probably hasn’t been taught before. He did a very good job in a very short time to get the team together.

Booth said it was great to have a high level of hockey in Oamaru in front of a good crowd.

“It was kind of cool to have people who wouldn’t necessarily come to watch or have the opportunity on that level, so it was really good on that front,” he said.

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