A MASSIVE step forward for boys’ hockey in the city, Orange will on Friday field a predominantly home-grown outfit at the Hockey NSW Under 18 Boys Field State Championship at Newcastle.
Tackling Port Macquarie in their first division three clash this morning at 11.45am, the Orange under 18 boys will boast 12 Orange Hockey Association players out of the 13 named in the squad set to compete in the Hunter.
Pleased with the obvious growth in the boys’ game in Orange, coach Beth Shea said laying the platform for junior hockey success had been a slow process.
“We’ve sent boys teams away in the past but on those occasions we’ve had to rely on other associations to help us fill the squad. This time we’re taking a completely Orange side,” Shea said, co-coaching with Andrew Reddan.
“I think it’s been a flow-on from the under 13s and the under 15s, who’ve had a competitive group of players.
“There’s another younger group who are coming up as well that look quite talented. I think there’s been a concerted effort to get the team in this position.”
Past championship campaigns in the younger age groups have yielded positive results.
Competing in division two, Orange finished third in the under 13 boys’ championship in 2013 and, before that, came away with state championship titles in the under 15 division three competition in 2011 and 2012.
But this weekend, the competition will lift to another level.
Pooled alongside Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga and Nepean, Shea said her side’s goals were simple.
“Pete [Shea] and I have been working on implementing a new pattern in that group, which is the same pattern the Australian sides are using,” she said. “We’ll work on that pattern again this weekend and if that brings about some wins, you beauty.”
ORANGE: Adam Skelton, Gerry Shea, Louis Shea, Jack Bush, Jake Skleton, Andrew Eather, Caiden Reddan, Connor Morris, Henry Jones, Mitch Vennard, Jayden Watson, Michael Sturt, Matthew Job.