Back on home turf

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Hockey high performance network coach Aaron Ford (left) with Black Sticks goalkeeper George Enersen at the NBS Ashburton Hockey Turf.

Hockey NZ high performance network coach Aaron Ford was back on home turf this week taking premier grade’s best players through their paces at a training session.

The former Ashburton College alumni took up his new role in February, a role designed to be a connector between the community and high performance for players, coaches and umpires. His patch covers the South Island.

Ford brought talented players down to NBS Ashburton Hockey Turf Monday from their usual training base in Christchurch to showcase and share the work done in training.

Coaches and officials from the Mid Canterbury Hockey fraternity were invited to get up close and to watch and learn.

Men trained for an hour and were followed on the turf by elite female players.

Among those at the training were Black Sticks goalkeeper George Enersen, striker Jessie Anderson and a number of NZ development squad players.

Ford grew up in a hockey playing family in Ashburton.

His family was associated with the Collegians Hockey Club, with dad Ross a local player and older brother Mark also a Canterbury rep player.

Ford himself played for Canterbury Under 18 and Under 21 teams, and in his last year at college started playing club hockey for Harewood.

Three ACL ruptures cut short his playing career at the age of 29 and he made the move into coaching.

His first coaching job was at Christchurch Girls’ and he has since progressed to men’s, women’s and age group teams at both regional and national level.

The 39-year-old, a father of two, said he was full time with hockey these days and enjoying the opportunities that came with it.

“I love working with the players and preparing and playing in tournaments.”

Ford said he had been back to the Ashburton turf a number of times since his early playing days.

“I only actually played on the turf for the first six months after it was built.

“It’s a nice turf, a great facility for Ashburton, and a lot more sheltered than the new turf at Nga Puna Wai in Christchurch.”

-By Mick Jensen