Sport brings people together for a common aim; it inspires a passion and a dedication which plays a central part in many people’s lives.
Sport is for individuals striving to succeed - either on their own, or in teams. However, those individuals, together or alone, need the help of others – to provide the facilities, the equipment, and the opportunities.
The Poverty Bay Hockey Association has secured the right to finally establish an artificial hockey turf locally. After over 20 years of negotiating and planning the artificial hockey turf is nearing completion at the Harry Barker Reserve, Gladstone Road, Gisborne- the home of local hockey.
At this time the Poverty Bay Hockey Association is providing the opportunity for local companies to become a part of thi
s exciting new facility through sponsorship that will benefit not only the local hockey playing fraternity but the Gisborne community as a whole.
Pathways for local hockey players
Traditionally the sport of hockey has had a strong following in the Gisborne East Coast region. The last Senior National Tournament played on grass was hosted in Gisborne in 1985. With the introduction of artificial turfs in the mid 1980’s, the Poverty Bay region is the last of the hockey playing regions in New Zealand to have a turf.
Prior to the mid-1980s there were many local players gaining New Zealand representative honours. Following the introduction of artificial hockey surfaces the number of local has significantly diminished which has led to a ‘player drain’. It is now almost a prerequisite for players wanting to gain higher representative honours to leave the district and ply their trade for other regions.
Anita Wawatai was the last player raised in Gisborne to gain full national honours representing the New Zealand Blacksticks, debuting in 2003 and attending the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Anita had to relocate to Palmerston North and gained national recognition after representing Manawatu. Other examples of players leaving this district to pursue the dream of New Zealand representative selection are Nancy-Rae Tarawa (Wellington), Alexsandria Taare (Bay of Plenty), Patrick Crawshaw (Hawkes Bay), and MacKenzie Wilcox (Hawkes Bay). These players gained age group New Zealand selection at U21 and U18 levels.
Athletes raised in Gisborne/ East Coast region have always featured prominently in the Aotearoa Maori Representative teams at Senior and U21 levels in recent years. The opportunity now exists for these players to exhibit their skills locally following Te Tairawhiti Hockey securing the right to host the National Maori Hockey Tournament in Gisborne over Labour Weekend in 2016.
Benefits to the local hockey playing fraternity
The establishment of the artificial hockey turf is seen by many as a first step toward addressing the issue of local athletes gaining selection to New Zealand representative teams. The artificial hockey turf will help locally raised players gain New Zealand representative honour without having to leave Gisborne. This will be done through the ability of the Poverty Bay Hockey Association to host:
Attracting International fixtures
National and Regional age group hockey tournaments and coaching/ developmental workshops
Inter-school hockey tournaments and fixtures
Local Summer and Corporate hockey leagues- hockey will become an all year round sport
Coaching and develop
The establishment of the artificial hockey turf will provide a facility that will enhance the delivery of relevant and specialised training and developmental workshops. Many nationally ranked coaches have been operating in Gisborne on sporadic basis for the past three seasons. The high performance coaching of Greg Nicol (ex-black stick assistant Coach), Caryn Paewai (Ex Blackstick) and Niniwa Roberts (Ex-Blackstick) have been involved with the delivery of training to local athletes in Gisborne.
To maintain this level of coaching the local athletes had to make a commitment to travel outside of Gisborne due to the lack of facilities. Now that there is an artificial hockey turf in Gisborne there is an expectation that some of the Central Hockey High Performance weekend workshops in 2016 will be delivered here. The presence of the Central Hockey High Performance coaching team will inevitably have benefits to the athletes and developing coaching structures within the Poverty Bay Hockey Association. Ultimately this will improve the pathways available to local athletes.
With the opening of the artificial hockey turf the Poverty Bay Hockey Association has already be awarded the hosting rights for a number of tournaments. These tournaments will bring upwards of 100 or more athletes, management staff, and team supporters to Gisborne. The hockey tournaments already confirmed are:
Mini Tupara and Morrow Under 13 Boys and Girls Regional tournament- 25/26 July 2015- 6 teams from Poverty Bay, Bay of Plenty, and Tauranga
U15 Boys Champion Regional Mini Tournament- 12/13 September 2015- teams from Poverty Bay, Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Whanganui, and Taranaki
U13 Girls Rawleigh Trophy- 5 to 8 October 2015- ‘B’ teams from throughout New Zealand
National Maori Tournament- Labour Weekend 2016- up to 14 Men’s and Women’s team from throughout New Zealand
The artificial hockey turf will allow local schools to host triangular and quadrangular tournaments in Gisborne. Again these tournaments will bring upward to 100 players, management, and supporters to this region. Traditionally local schools have had to travel to other school tournaments to get the required competition to remain competitive at a national level.
Summer and Corporate hockey league
Hockey will become an all year round sport with the introduction of a Summer Hockey League and a corporate mercantile type league.
A Hockey 5’s Summer tournament will be aimed at the players that are wanting to maintain a competitive edge and fitness over the summer period. This tournament will be run along the same guidelines as the shorten games played at the ‘Young Olympics’ held in China this year.
The Corporate mercantile type league will be targeting the social player that wants to maintain some fitness over the summer season. This league will also aim to draw in ‘newer’ players that have always wanted to play hockey but never had the opportunity. This league will have a fun noncompetitive social atmosphere.
The Poverty Bay Hockey Association has identified that there would be benefits for other codes. When the turf is not being used for hockey other sports such as touch, soccer, and Ki-o-rahi can potentially have access to it. This will, however, be aligned to the care and maintain of the surface.
In surmising the establishment of the artificial hockey turf at Harry Barker has been received as great news throughout the country. Poverty Bay is the last hockey competing region in New Zealand to have a turf built. There has been an enormous amount of work from many people to have this turf to come to fruition.
There are benefits for the hockey playing fraternity and the community as a whole. The opportunity to host international games and national/regional tournaments and fixtures will have economic benefits locally. There will be the opportunity to showcase what the Gisborne/ East Coast region offers to the visitors that are attending these tournaments and fixtures.
Ultimately the artificial hockey turf will improve the parity of local hockey players on the national scene. The development and progression of our local players will be enhanced through the ability to host national/ regional training and developmental workshops and clinics. Attracting high calibre coaching staff to a world class facility is a key to the successful progression of our local athletes. This is what is now offered by the artificial hockey turf situated at the home of Poverty Bay hockey- Harry Barker Reserve.