CALLUM Mackay recently returned from Darwin, where he helped NSW win their eighth consecutive title in the under 15s Australian National Hockey Championships.
The 15-year-old Nowra Anglican College student said a lot of hard work and preparation went into their effort, with the team training for two months beforehand.
Mackay did plenty of training with his Illawarra Academy coach Simon Beaton in the lead-up to the tournament to make sure he was fit and ready to go in the hot conditions.
They managed to go through the tournament undefeated, with six wins and a draw to see them crowned champions at the end of the week.
Mackay played in the championships for the under 13s two years ago, when they were beaten in the final and said they were all determined to make up for it.
“We felt a bit of pressure to perform, because NSW have won it seven times in a row, so there was a bit of expectation for us to win,” he said.
“We were all a little bit nervous, because we didn’t go very well in the under 13s,” he added.
While they won most of their games convincingly, they faced some tougher competition from Victoria, who they defeated narrowly 4-3.
It all came down to their second last game of the tournament against Western Australia, with sides undefeated up until that point.
They did not have the ideal start after they fell behind 3-nil in the first 10 minutes and were in the familiar territory they experienced two years earlier, when the same thing happened.
Fortunately, they got their heads together, after pegging one goal back before half-time and actually led 4-3 in the second half before WA came up with a late equaliser.
But their superior goal difference was enough to see NSW take the title.
Mackay said things tend to get a little bit fiery whenever they play WA and enjoyed getting one over their rivals.
“They had a lot more supporters, who were very vocal and waving their banners.
“Every time they scored a goal they just erupted, but we just tried to block that out and let the hockey do the talking.”
Mackay said it was a great honour to stretch NSW’s winning run to an eighth year and he was happy just to be a part of the team.
“One of the guys was saying, we’re the best in Australia… there’s no one better than us and that really got the goose bumps tingling.
Then receiving your medal in front of a big crowd, with everyone cheering was a pretty good feeling.”
Mackay plays his hockey in the Shoalhaven with the Bluejays and for the University of Wollongong in the Illawarra competition.
He said he has his eyes set on making the Australian All-Schools team and winning a regular spot in the uni first grade team alongside his older brother Alex in the near future.