Junior hockey celebrate Olympic week

HOCKEY MAD: Mid Canterbury Hockey administrator Mel Doyle.
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Junior Mid Canterbury hockey players have been hitting the turf in Olympic fashion with some special guests – former New Zealand hockey representatives Barry Maister, Stacey McKerchar, Hugh Copland and Ryan Wilson.

Mid Canterbury Hockey administrator Mel Doyle said the theme was the Olympics and each team was asked to dress up for the occasion.

It is part of Matariki hockey celebrations ahead of next month’s Olympic Games.

The special guests are all former national representatives living in the district who asked to present Player of the Day awards, answer questions and show possible pathways in the sport.

Doyle has hit the ground running since taking on the role last month.

The former Canterbury representative, with regional development officer Mike Millar, is keen to see more Mid Canterbury players drawn into the sport.

Hockey in the district has 520 members – 203 adult and secondary level players, and 317 primary school and mini aged players.

Those numbers were down on pre-Covid figures when hockey had more than 600 playing.

Doyle said they were good numbers and, with the help of junior hockey extension programmes such as festival days and tournaments, could boost player interest.

‘‘It’s giving our juniors a chance to have exposure to out of town teams, which as a (young) hockey player was the most exciting thing in the whole world, getting to play against someone else and travel, go to tournaments,’’ she said.

CANTERBURY REP: Mel Doyle, nee Tiplady, representing Canterbury in 1990.

Doyle, nee Tiplady, 46, is hockey mad and enjoys everything about the sport.

‘‘I just love the skills involved, the fitness, the whole package. Everything is all inclusive. You have to have good hand-eye coordination, be able to run and dribble, and shoot and push.

‘‘I just think it’s a beautiful thing.’’

Doyle grew up in a hockey family in Christchurch, and played the game from an early age.

She was in the Riccarton High School First XI and played premier women for Selwyn Hockey Club.

Doyle then played in Sydney, Australia for Sydney University, and East Coast Dolphins.

She was on attack at left wing.

‘‘As I got older I moved backwards into centre half, which was more about the distribution of the ball rather than the scoring of the goals.

‘‘I was all about the scoring of the goals,’’ she said of her younger years.

‘‘I’m a hockey mad person. My son played, my daughter now plays, my father still plays on the grass in Christchurch.

Through hockey she has made some lifelong friends.

‘‘I went on to see players I played with go to the Commonwealth Games. It made me proud to see the girls that I grew up with playing for New Zealand.’’

Mid Canterbury has a number of players who have gone on to represent New Zealand, Stacey McKerchar (nee Carr), Kieran O’Grady, Hugh Copland, Ryan Wilson.

‘‘We have rich background in this district,’’ Doyle said.

‘‘They’re all coaching, they’re all giving back.’’

Hockey is played at the turf in the Ashburton Domain throughout the week with division one men and women, division two men, open women, Kiwi Sticks (years 5/6), Kwick Sticks (years 7/8) and Mini Sticks, as well as Mid Canterbury representative, AshColl First XI, and trainings.