Coraki juniors flourishing
CORAKI'S hockey juniors are so dedicated that even when it is time to do their homework they still have a hockey stick in their hands.
That is the reason why six kids from the town were picked to play for NSW Country recently.
Seven players from the Far North Coast were chosen for these teams with the only non-Coraki person being East Lismore's Jenna Hughes.
Jenna represented NSW Country at under-13 level.
Coraki's Callum and Tom Brown and attacker Hayden Scurr took the field at under-13 boys' level, Britney Gwynne in the under-13 girls and Bailey Powell and Jackson Gwynne in the under-15 boys.
Mitchell Scotcher was also judged good enough for NSW Country, but was ruled out because he already made the under-18 NSW side.
On Monday, Mitchell will leave on a European tour to represent the under-16 Australian Schoolboys' team.
"Mitch has great skills with the ball and he tackles well," junior Coraki coach Rob Powell said.
Phil Gwynne, the father of Jackson and Britney, said his two kids have carried on Coraki's proud hockey tradition.
"They were born with hockey sticks in their hands," he said. "They're pretty dedicated and they enjoy it.
"The town isn't very big on footy, we just play a lot of hockey out here.
"All those kids (picked to play for NSW Country) play and train about three or four times a week. They all want to make juniors NSW sides."
Tom Brown played for NSW under-13s last year and cousin Callum is a strong defensive player.
Bailey Powell played as high as reserve grade with the men in Far North Coast Hockey last year while Jackson also played against bigger and stronger opponents in B-grade.
Bailey, the son of Rob Powell, has also represented the NSW Primary Schools Sports Association (PSSA), and has been identified as a future Queensland player. Tom and Hayden have also played for PSSA.
"He wasn't worried about taking on the men last year," Powell said.
Powell's other son Alex, who has represented NSW at under-16 Schoolboys' level, gets extra game time in the winter by travelling to Murwillumbah to take part in a Friday night competition against Tweed teams.
He plays alongside brother Bailey, Mitchell, Jackson and Tom.
The group helped their side win the last grand final 6-0 against the Waratahs after losing 1-0 on the first attempt.
"And the first time we lost to the Waratahs, their goalkeeper Zac Grace kept them in the game with about 30 saves," Powell said.
Alex, Mitchell and Bailey will also represent the North Coast Academy in the Academy Games at Illawarra from April 13-15.
"The reason why Coraki is the best club around here is because all the parents support their kids," Powell said. "We've won the last three successive under-11, under-15 and under-15 Far North Coast premierships.
"Over the last 10 years a lot of hard work has gone into developing our juniors.
"These kids do their homework with a hockey stick, pen and paper.
"We've already produced an Australian player in Warren Birmingham.
"We're a proud little hockey town."