North Otago was treated to some top-level under-18 hockey at the weekend.
The North Otago Hockey Association hosted the under-18 boys Wakatipu Shield festival involving North Otago, Otago and Southland in Oamaru. Central Otago was forced to pull out due to Covid-19.
The festival did not have a winner, in alignment with Hockey New Zealand’s ‘‘balance is better’’ philosophy.
Sporting development officer Ethan Booth said it was a good learning curve for North Otago’s up-and-coming hockey players.
‘‘It was really cool to have it in Oamaru. It was really good for our boys to see the standard of hockey that’s probably the next step for them,’’ Booth said.
‘‘It was a really good challenge for those lads, in particular.’’
North Otago played Otago and Southland on the Saturday, and played a North Otago men’s side on the Sunday to give it another game.
It was the North Otago under-18 side’s first time together, which meant they had not trained, but new coach Mark Holthusen was great at bringing the team together, Booth said.
‘‘He brought some knowledge to these boys that they . . .probably haven’t been taught before. He did a really good job at very short notice to get the team together.’’
Booth said it was a great to have a high standard of hockey in Oamaru in front of a good crowd.
‘‘It was just quite cool to have people come along who wouldn’t necessarily come and watch, or have the opportunity at that type of level, so it was really good on that front,’’ he said.