Young Mackay makes senior cut

CALLUM Mackay may only be 15-years-old but that has not stopped him from being selected in the NSW under 18s field hockey team.

Mackay will play on NSW’s second under 18s team, made up of younger players who will also be able to play in the under 18s tournament in 2015.

This year the championships will be held in Canberra in March.

“We still play in the same competition as all the states in the 18s, with Victoria and NSW both opting to put two teams in,” Mackay said.

“We shouldn’t come last because I still think we can beat Tasmania and all the other smaller states, but hopefully it gives us a bit of experience for next year and I can get picked in the first side so then we can play well and actually win it.

“To be at a national championship is always good.”

The selection came about after Mackay played for NSW in the under 17s competition.

He was then chosen in a squad of about 60 players vying for a spot on the under 18s team.

The players took part in two days of intense training which saw them play about 20 hours of hockey, including a visit by Kookaburras’ Matthew Butturini.

Two days later he was informed of the selection.

Despite playing for NSW since he was selected for the under 13s team in 2010, Mackay said he was surprised with the selection.

“I have sort of been on the edge of the age group above me, so when I was 14 I just didn’t get picked in the under 15s team, so hopefully this and next year I can get picked up.

“Because that is sort of a goal at a young age – to get picked up by the age group above so then when you get to 21s you may only be 19, but get picked in the 21s and you can progress from that as opposed to just getting chosen in your age group.”

It has been a whirlwind past couple of months for the Nowra Anglican College student.

In January Mackay travelled to Brisbane with the NSW under 15s indoor hockey team for the national championships.

Here NSW was a power force in the competition, eventually beating Victoria 10-2 in the final. 

“We played them on the first day and beat them 9-4, and then we cruised through and scored over 10 goals in most games and got to the final and smashed them,” Mackay said.

But it was not all smooth sailing for Mackay, who had a setback in the second game in the form of a hockey stick to the head, resulting in five stitches.

“I was back playing the next day, but I haven’t really had an injury for a while so it put me out for a bit,” he said.

It was a sweet indoor campaign for Hockey NSW, which took out every division except the men’s under 18s.

All this is part of Mackay’s plan to one day play for Australia.

Mid-year Mackay will compete in the NSW championships with the aim to get picked in the under 16s all schools squad. 

If he gets picked in that team then he will attend a national all schools championships where an Australian team is selected.

“That’s my goal for this year, to get to that team, so I have to keep working hard,” he said.

Until then, Mackay will continue to play locally for Wollongong Uni in the Illawarra competition and Bluejays in the Shoalhaven competition.

Mackay thanked the Illawarra Academy of Sport for its support.

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