GERRINGONG duo Josh Mayo and Grace Stewart will head to South Africa next year after they were selected in the Australian under 16s All School’s hockey team.
The announcement came after the recent national championships in Hobart, where NSW took out the tournament in the under 16s in the boys and girls division.
In a closely contested tournament, the boys defeated Queensland 3-1 in their final, while the girls beat Queensland 3-2 in their final.
Josh was named as NSW player’s player for the tournament and was thrilled to earn his first Australian call-up at the end of it.
“Making the Australian team was one of my goals at the start of the year, so that was a great bonus after winning the tournament,” he said.
“Not many people get to play for Australia, but hopefully getting to at such a young age can help me progress through the ranks,” he added.
Both the boys and the girls Australian teams will now go to South Africa in June and July next year, to play a four-test series against the locals.
While he doesn’t know a lot about South African hockey, Josh said he was really looking forward to the experience.
“It will be interesting to see how other countries play hockey and how we stack up against them,” he said.
While it is always good to get one over the Queenslanders in sport, it was particularly sweet for Grace and the girls team, after they had a draw in their round game.
Grace said the fact they won the tournament just made it more exciting, although the atmosphere in the final could have been better.
“It was all right, but there weren’t that many supporters, because they were all watching the boys game,” she said.
Unlike Josh, Grace has already had the chance to represent Australia, after travelling to Argentina last year.
But she still breathed a sigh of relief and felt the excitement of receiving another national call up.
She said the opportunity to play in Argentina was a great experience and was looking forward to going to South Africa.
“We’re going on a safari thing, so that should be pretty cool, then there’s the hockey too,” she said.
“It’s different playing against other teams from around the world.
“It’s a higher level, but after last year, I think I’ll handle it pretty well.”
Josh and Grace are both in year 10 at Kiama High School and are members of the Emerging NSW team and the Illawarra Academy of Sport.
As well as playing juniors for Gerringong, Josh also played in the Illawarra senior competition for Albion Park.
In the future, Josh is hoping to make the step up to the NSW and Australian open’s team and to go to the Australian Institute of Sport.
Grace has similar future goals and said she was hoping to make the NSW and Australian under 21s teams in the future.