A group of upcoming Bega hockey players have adopted a unique training approach to be match-ready for upcoming tournaments.
A young group is being coached on the nuances of artificial turf, by practising on the Bega tennis courts.
Hockey advocate Lisa Griffin said the group had been invited to take part in the top level city vs country clash in Moorebank, Sydney, but were getting well-acquainted with the artificial surface.
“It is literally a different ball game from when we play on the field,” Griffin said with a laugh.
“Most of these guys already have some level of representative experience, but they only play on turf two or three times a year and need to get this practice in before they go away.
“They’ll be playing some of the state’s best – and they’re all regular turf players.”
The young group has been hand-picked by current NSW player and under 15s national coach Rachel Miller as potential future state players.
Griffin said other areas now have access to new “centre for development” grounds at least once a week, where groups can train on turf grounds and have access to top level coaching.
With the nearest two facilities being in Goulburn and the Illawarra, Miller took it on herself to ensure the Far South Coast was not left in the lurch.
After visiting a few times over the year and attending a locally hosted training clinic, Miller hand picked the group, which she invited to take part in the CvC tournament.
So Griffin has teamed up with Australian masters rep player Leigh Rogers to tutor the young group on the nuances of the artificial surface.
“The time between the invite and the tournament is six weeks, so we developed a six week program and we’re about halfway through,” Griffin said.
The kids have also been personalised training regimes they can complete at home and Griffin said the group has been showing a concerted effort in the lead up to the tournament.
Rogers has a wealth of experience, playing for Australia and travelling to Canberra regularly to compete.
She was also one of the innovators of practising on the tennis courts in a friendly arrangement made with the Bega Tennis Club.
The group is already working well on the turf and Griffin said the younger players pick it up quickly.
“They pick it up well, much better than adults do,” she said.
However, the skills learned on a natural grass field hockey ground can prove beneficial on the predictable synthetic – field hockey players learn an extra level of control, accounting for the varied nature of the surface.
Players in the City v Country will be some of the best in the state and Griffin said the level of competition should not be underestimated.
“I am certain there will be some future Olympians at this event, but that has kind of added to the excitement for the kids,” she said.
The City v Country will run in Moorebank, Sydney, in February before the return of the regular Bega winter competition later in the year.