TOP TALENT: East Lismore player Grant Smith, 47, will represent the NSW Over 45 team at the Australian Men;s Masters Championship in the region.
TOP TALENT: East Lismore player Grant Smith, 47, will represent the NSW Over 45 team at the Australian Men;s Masters Championship in the region. Shez Napper

Former Kookaburra sees the light

AFTER living on the Northern Rivers since 2002, former Olympian and Queenslander Grant Smith has made momentous deicision.

The coach of the East Lismore Hockey Club's Men's A-Grade team, Smith, 47, is finally pulling on the blue jersey to play for New South Wales in the 2018 Men's Masters Australian Hockey Championships which run from September 21 to October 6, in Lismore and Ballina.

Smith, 45, who helped the Aussies come home form the the United States with a bronze medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, said he's keen to be finally playing for New South Wales n the men's Over 45 team..

Since his Atlanta days, Smith said he's maintained his passion for the game.

"I love hockey, I still play hockey and my daughters play hockey,” he said.

"It's a fantastic game at every age.”

Now, recently returned from playing in Spain at the 2018 World Cup, where the Australian Over 45s defeated all before them until they crashed in the quarter finals of the round robin event, Smith said he can't wait to run onto the field wearing NSW colours.

"I thought it was about time I played for the state I have been living in for so long,” he said.

"Playing in the masters events is really exciting, because we have guys on the state teams for whom this is the pinnacle of their hockey playing; they are incredibly enthusiastic and skilled, which makes the games fast and thrilling to watch.”

Smith has maintained his position as an elite player and his laurels include being selected as captain of the inaugural over 35s Queensland team that played NSW in what became the forerunner to the now established Australian Masters Over 35 Hockey Championships.

In 2012 Smith captained the Australian Masters Hockey over 40s team in the first FIH sanctioned World Cup for Masters hockey.

Far North Coast Hockey are calling for hockey fans to step up and volunteer their technical, organisational, barrista and other skills in exchange for the seats at the games.

Volunteers are needed for a range of tasks, from helping out with the scoring and recording of statistics, to serving refreshments.

More information at https://www.facebook.com/fnchockey/



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