Hockey Australia’s U21 Country teams have recently returned from competing in the Oceania Pacific Cup staged in Fiji.
This was the third year Hockey Australia has been represented at this event by country teams and for the first time by Under 21 representative teams.
These teams are considered as an important step in the representative pathway for elite country junior players and to represent their country at a FIH sanctioned event is certainly a significant achievement.
Following on from the previous two years, our teams performed well with the women winning the Gold Medal and the Men coming home with the Bronze Medal.
For the women it was a case of reclaiming top spot having won the Gold in 2008 and the Silver in 2009. For the men it was the second successive Bronze after failing to overcome the Fiji national side in the semi finals for the second year.
During the round games both teams performed well with the women going through undefeated, although they drew 1-1 with host nation Fiji. The Final was a hard fought match against the New Zealand Maoris with the Aussies winning the Gold.
Coach Jeff Aldridge was particularly pleased with the manner in which his team rose to the challenge given the squad included 13 players who were playing at this representative level for the first time.
Teams involved in the competition included Australian Country, Fiji, Fiji President’s XI, New Zealand Maoris (women), New Zealand barbarians (men), Papua New Guinea and Samoa.
The New Zealand Barbarians again proved a stumbling block for the men during the pool games. The Barbarians is made up of NZ national hockey league players who have had national representative experience or are on the cusp of doing so and have won the event since its inception three years ago.
This year’s squad included two current NZ Blacksticks in their ranks – a formidable opponent. In the pool game the Barbarians prevailed 4-1 in a vert tight and fiercely contested game.
In the lead up to the finals, the Aussie men performed well to finish second on the table, however in the semi-final could not overcome the host side Fiji, who in a result that was good for them and for Oceania Hockey, won the game and played off against the Barbarians in the final.
The Aussie men proved much too strong for Papua new Guinea in the Bronze Medal playoff. The men’s cpach Robert Laffin praised his players for their performance under the conditions and limted preparation time.
The team came together for the first time two days before the start of the tournament and acquitted themselves well against much more seasoned and prepared teams.
This event has become a showcase of Oceania Hockey and has gone from strength to strength over the past three years. It is envisaged that Vanuatu will participate next year.
The level of officiating has also developed in line with the efforts of the Oceania Hockey Federation to develop all aspects of the sport in the region. It is worth noting that the two umpires who accompanied the Australian Country Teams – Brett Powell and Emily O’Shea, were recognised for their performance and standard by being awarded the mens’ and womens’ finals respectively.
At this international level – a very significant achievement. Over the past three years the Australian Country Teams have set the benchmark with their on and off field performance at this event.
In 2009 the teams’ uniform supplier was able to outfit the Samoan teams following their Tsunami hardship. Each year our medical staff have supported the island nation teams who do not have that level of expertise and/or support.
2010 was no different with our medical team offering injury management support to players from other teams and most particularly those players from PNG who were at the event for the first time.
It is worth noting too that the green and gold was represented amongst the volunteer coaches at a junior coaching session held on finals day. The Hockey Australian U21 Country teams are named at the Australian Country Championships each, which in 2011 will be staged at Port Lincoln, SA.
Whilst the Oceania Pacific Cup exists in its current format, it is envisaged that these teams will continue to represent Hockey Australia at this level. Hockey Australia U21 Country Teams Oceania Pacific Cup 2010
Mitchell Smith (C) Shelley Stevenson (C)
Ben Chew Jessica Antonovich
Jacob Daumuller Lauren Brownhalls
Nathan Doherty Stacey Dearness
Matthew Harmon Jamie Hartley
Todd Harmsworth Este Heyns
Gareth Hoddinott Kiona Jones
Connor Hutchins Kim Blatchford
Stuart Hutchins Jess Martin-Brown
Sam McIntosh Elizabeth McHugh
Sam Macpherson Brooke McFadden
Samuel Mould Erin McKenzie
Zachariah Nelson Allison Nicholson
Alex Said Kimberley Resch
Dean Robertson Sophie Rodda
Dominic Wild Karla Temporali
Kieran Wilkie Holly Wheeler
Steven Young Helena Williamson
Robert Laffin (Coach) Jeffrey Aldridge (Coach)
Brett Stokes (A/Coach) Ron Fairhall (A/Coach)
Paul Blenkiron (A/Coach) Phill Foreman (A/Coach)
Keith Wilkie (Team Manager) Gina Smith (Team Manager)
Andrew Quinn (Video/Stats) Dianne Aldridge (Stats)
Ray Patton (Medical) Ellen Wild (Medical)
Brett Powell (Umpire) Emily O’Shea (Umpire)
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