HOCKEY Australia has announced that Lismore and Ballina will host the 2018 Men's Masters Australian Championships in September and October.
Lismore MP Thomas George, Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith, Far North Coast Hockey president Clint Mallett and Hockey Australia general manager Ben Hartung made the announcement in Lismore this afternoon.
The event was secured for the region by the State Government as part of their partnership between Destination NSW and Hockey Australia.
The Men's Masters, which will take place from September 21 to October 6, has been held annually since 1980.
Next year's event will be the fifth time it has been hosted in NSW and first time since 2013.
Mr Hartung said: "Hockey Australia, in partnership with Destination NSW and supported by Far North Coast Hockey Incorporated, Lismore City Council and Ballina Shire Council, is thrilled to announce that the 2018 Men's Masters Australian Championships will be jointly hosted in Lismore and Ballina.
"The Men's Masters Australian Championships is Hockey Australia's largest participation event with 85 teams comprising of over 1800 participants from across the country playing in excess of 300 games of hockey in 16 exciting days of competition.
"Our masters hockey community is thriving with the age divisions for the Championship ranging from Over 35 to Over 75, with all participants enjoying the positive physical, social and mental health benefits of being actively involved in sport."
Mr George said the event would provide a significant boost to local businesses, accommodation providers and tourism operators.
"Lismore will be buzzing with visitors next September, with more than 1800 participants including players, coaches, umpires and officials set to travel to the region for the Championships," he said.
"In addition, there will be hundreds of supporters that accompany the 85 teams that will compete across 16 days of action.
"Lismore is a passionate sporting community, as we saw earlier this year when the Barbarians and Classic Wallabies played at Crozier Park and I know the community will get right behind this event.
"I encourage everyone who comes from outside the region to plan their trip in advance to ensure they have time to experience everything Lismore has to offer, from the many beautiful walks and national parks, pristine beaches that are just a short drive away, cafes and restaurants and world-class hospitality."
Australian Masters Hockey National Coordinator Peter Sweeney said: "On behalf of Australian Masters Hockey, I welcome the announcement of Lismore and Ballina as the joint hosts of the 2018 Men's Masters Australian Championships.
"All participants will be eagerly looking forward to visiting these locations in northern NSW for the first time.
"I take this opportunity to thank the State Member for Lismore, Mr Thomas George MP, the Lismore and Ballina City Councils and Far North Coast Hockey Incorporated for their support of this major event."
The matches will be split across the two towns.
Lismore has two pitches and will host approximately 200 matches, while Ballina will host approximately 100 matches.