SHOALHAVEN product Alex Mackay has continued to press his indoor world cup claims after a string of strong performances for the Australian men’s indoor hockey team in Europe.
The 23-year-old has recently returned from a 17-day tour, which saw them play games in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.
“We started the developmental tour with a match against Royal Racing, a club team in Brussels, Belgium,” Mackay said.
“We notched up a tight victory which was a great start, especially when most of the team only flew into Europe the day before.
“The next two days we played against the Belgium national team, where we went down convincingly (9-5 and 8-3) – they were far too slick compared to us.
“We then drove to Utrecht in the Netherlands to play against the Dutch national team. The first match played in Almere saw our team press the whole match, which left the score firmly against us.
“The second game, we were up 4-1, however couldn’t finish the game off and unfortunately lost 5-4.
The team then headed to Berlin, Germany to play club teams.
A two-game series against Blau Weiss was tight however the Aussies just couldn’t get over the.
Mackay did score a goal.
“After heading back to Amsterdam, we played the Dutch national side for two more matches, where we ended up with a tight loss and a 2-all draw in Venlo and Hertogenbosh,” he said.
“To complete the tour, we played against Den Bosch and Amsterdam Hockey Club but came away with two tough losses.
“To put into perspective, the Amsterdam Hockey Club has five outdoor hockey pitches plus three of our opposition had previously played for the Netherlands at the 2016 indoor hockey world cup.”
On a personal note, Mackay learnt plenty and gained valuable experience that he will take forward with his career.
“I felt I played some good hockey during the tour, which contributed strongly to the team,” he said.
“There were parts of my game that certainly improved which is pleasing, especially as I look to the world cup in 12 months time.
“I was certainly pleased to play against some quality opposition that I’d never faced and being able to stop their attack and assist in our own was pleasing from a personal point of view. “
He said his tour highlight was the third game against Holland in Vanlo.
“The game was played at 6.30pm, so a large crowd packed into a reasonably small stadium to support the Dutch,” he said.
“Although we had little support, it was phenomenal to representing my country in front of that many fans cheering against you.
“It’s the first time I’ve toured Europe while playing hockey.
“To be able to see how they approach the game was something I hadn’t seen before.
“I’m thankful for the experience.”
Mackay will now turn his attention to domestic outdoor campaigns with the University of Wollongong and Moorebank.
“Training has just started again for the outdoor season as we attempt to win both the Illawarra and Sydney first grade titles again as we did last year,” he said.
“In regards to indoor hockey, an Australian camp will be held mid-year to pick the World Cup team for 2018.”