Junior Black Sticks pitch in for skills session

By Hannah Walker

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Isaac Hancock, Georgia Payne and Ashlyn Crawford try out new skills.
Isaac Hancock, Georgia Payne and Ashlyn Crawford try out new skills.

Pembroke School students had the chance to perfect their skills on the pitch with a skills session from a trio of national level hockey players last Friday.

Megan Hull, Madison Dowe and Kirsty Nation of the Junior Black Sticks team visited the school last week while attending a training camp in Stratford in preparation for the Junior World Cup in Chile next month.

"Visiting schools and working with pupils gives the students a chance to be role models," says Junior Black Sticks coach Sean Dancer.

Sean says players visited a range of schools throughout the region on Friday morning to deliver skills sessions to pupils.

"Starting with some basic drills the players can get an idea of the pupils individual skill levels and then they run a range of exercises to help develop the players," says Sean.

"We learnt how to control, dribble and stop the ball," says player Victoria Payne, 10.

Grant Boyde, of Taranaki Hockey, says it's a great experience for the young pupils to be exposed to the rising talent of the international players.

"It's an awesome opportunity for them to get the chance to develop their skills so young," says Grant.

He adds that it is also great for the Stratford community and the region as a whole that the team are using the Stratford turf as a base for their trainings.

"It showcases that Stratford has world-class hockey facilities and raises the profile of hockey in the region."

Sean says the Stratford turf is a fantastic facility for the players to train on, "however the climate doesn't really compare to the 30 degree heat that the players will be facing in Chile".

Grant says schools in the region had a chance to register their interest in having Junior Black Sticks players visit their pupils.

Pembroke School was one of the first schools to take up the opportunity.

"Hockey is still an up and coming sport in New Zealand and it's great to see schools like Pembroke School taking the opportunity to encourage their pupils to get involved," says Sean.

- Stratford Press

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