THE 2014 Shoalhaven Hockey season gets under way this Saturday with grand final replays the order of an exciting day’s hockey.
The Bernie Regan Sporting Complex in North Nowra will come alive with the junior competition starting at 10am, followed by the men’s competition at 1pm and the women’s competition from 5.30pm.
With Shoalhaven Hockey’s Olympic standard synthetic hockey field now the centrepiece of hockey in the Shoalhaven, the region is well placed for another competitive season.
Clubs have been training hard, both on and off the field, in preparation for this weekend’s season hit-off.
There will be some great match-ups in the first round, so if you enjoy watching a good game of hockey, come along to the Bernie Regan Hockey Complex and get a taste of the season ahead.
The junior competition gets play under way at 10am with the replay of last year’s grand final between St Georges Basin and Bluejays.
With last year’s grand final decided by a penalty stroke off, it is expected that another close match will unfold.
Look out for Shoalhaven’s exciting young prospect Callum Mackay to lead the way for Bluejays.
He will take some stopping, with St Georges Basin needing to be at the top of their game.
It will be a big game from Liam Dooley, who will lead the way for Basin and will be needed to stop the Bluejays’ attack.
The second junior game will see newcomers Kangaroo Valley go up against Allsorts starting at 11.15am.
The Valley team is an unknown entity so it will be interesting to see how they shape up.
Look for Allsorts to improve as their young team builds on their experience from last year and they will look to Cooper Perry to lead the way for them.
The Shoalhaven men’s competition will have six teams again this year with Allsorts out to defend their title.
They will come up against Southern Highlands club Burrawang in a replay of last year’s grand final at 4pm.
Allsorts will again look to Aaron Lloyd to guide their attack around the field, while the ever reliable Don Mason in goals will need to be on his game right from the start to repel the exciting Burrawang forward line.
Burrawang’s Donovan boys lead the way up front with clever and accurate goal shooting the feature of their play and they will benefit from already having games under their belt from playing in the mid-week Illawarra under 18s competition.
The first men’s game of the season at 1pm sees Shoalhaven Hockey’s seasoned campaigners Bluejays and St Georges Basin meet in what will be an interesting affair.
Word on the street is that Bluejays will have a similar line up to last year, when on their day and with all players available, they could threaten any team in the competition, with the Mackay brothers Alex and Callum and the ageless Dennis Smart on the prowl.
St Georges Basin will be looking for their juniors to come through and add spark to their attack.
Thomas Dolby and Liam Dooley will get plenty of game time this season and should continue to develop into valuable assets for the Basin Club.
The other men’s game at 2.30pm sees last year’s finalists Kangaroo Valley, who have been seen training hard, and looking to threaten for the competition again this year, take on Shoalhaven Heads.
Heads will be keen to build on their return to the competition last year and look for Matthew Clarke and David Bolt to lead their campaign, while Valley will have last year’s best and fairest, Daniel Knapp, and the ever reliable Mitch Wilson leading their charge.
The women’s competition will again have five teams this year with the two Allsorts teams meeting at 5.30pm in another grand final replay.
Allsorts Orange will be looking to avenge their grand final loss last year to Allsorts Green.
The battle between Mel Boundy and Eleanor Dodd, who are the playmakers in both teams, will be well worth the effort to pull up a chair on the hill and watch the women’s competition get under way.
The final match of the day will see Shoalhaven Heads Blue play St Georges Basin at 7pm.
The Shoalhaven Heads club will be eager to start their season with a win, while St Georges Basin will be hoping the return of some familiar faces to the Basin club, and Shoalhaven Hockey, will see them challenge for the title this year.
Shoalhaven Hockey encourages young people to come along and give this exciting sport a try.
Hockey will also appeal to families looking to consolidate the time they spend travelling for children’s sport.
Hockey is a sport that can be played by the whole family, young and old, boys and girls, all in one accessible location in North Nowra.
Complementing the junior competition is a ‘Come and Try Hockey’ junior development program from 9am to 10am on Saturday mornings prior to the junior competition.
The program starts this Saturday and is designed for 10 to 16 year olds who want to try hockey before committing to play in the junior competition.
It provides the opportunity for current players to encourage their non-hockey playing friends to come along and have a fun, but competitive game with you. Juniors who pick the game up quickly can then feed into the junior competition teams.
Hockey Australia’s Hookin2Hockey program for primary school aged children will again be run on Thursdays from 5.15pm to 6.30pm, starting May 1 and running through school terms two and three.
It includes a mixture of skills training and modified games, and is aimed at primary school aged children.
The cost for the program is $50, and for an extra $30 you can purchase a kit that includes a new hockey stick, ball and shin pads.
For more information on this program email president@shoalhavenhockey .org.au and for all information on playing hockey in the Shoalhaven visit www.shoalhavenhockey.org.au and contact a club that suits your family’s needs.