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Huge milestone . . . Jared Ovens brought up his 250th match for the Tainui Hockey Club last weekend. PHOTO: DAVE BOYLE/SPORT IMAGES NZ

Jared Ovens is never far from the hockey turf.

The Tainui Hockey Club stalwart brought up his 250th game for the Oamaru premier club on Saturday, in front of a home crowd against the Otago University Whales.

Ovens said that he was pleased to have reached the milestone, after having been involved with the club for 14 years.

‘‘I’ve got a wee way to go to catch Shaun [Cunningham], who’s done over 500 games for Tainui, but it’s good to be up that high anyway, and still playing,’’ Ovens said.

Until this year, Tainui had played in the South Canterbury Hockey competition and was competitive, even making the final one year. The team moved to the Otago competition this year, and while it had been a big change, it made him and others excited about hockey again.

But for Ovens, his 250 matches had been about more than just the competition.

‘‘It’s the people that make the club.’’

It had also been satisfying supporting the development of young players, and the North Otago team — mainly made up of Tainui players — competing in the Ian Smith Tournament had also been a highlight.

Hockey has been Ovens’ ‘‘number one sport’’ since he was 5. Ovens’ first XI team at Waitaki Boys’ was ranked 9th in New Zealand in 2002 and was quite successful.

‘‘We had some good wee teams going through high school, which definitely helped build character and your skill. .. and good coaches,’’ he said.

Ovens also played premier hockey in Christchurch, while studying at Lincoln University, for four years. After university, Ovens was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and became quite sick. It took him a while to get back on his feet, and he took a break from hockey, but found the sport he loved helped with his health.

‘‘It’s exercise and it gets me off the couch and running around.’’

He joined Tainui in 2008, and has been the North Otago Hockey Association president since 2019.