Juniors rub shoulders with Olympians
BRING 60 keen young hockey players together, add Olympians including two Kookaburras and the best female player in the country and you end up with a coaching clinic guaranteed to enthuse and inspire the next generation of players.
On Sunday current Australian Kookaburras captain and gold medal Olympian Mark Knowles, 32, team mate Murwillumbah's Dylan Wotherspoon, 23, and Jodie Kenny, 29, who has been voted as Australia's best women's player for the last two years, gave some sound advice and helped young athletes improve their skills at a special clinic hosted by Far North Coast Hockey at Lismore.
Knowles, whose pool room includes a gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics and a bronze from the 2012 London and 2008 Beijing Games, said it was a pleasure and privilege to be part of the clinic.
"It was a great day with a lot of friendly faces and we had as much fun as the kids,” he said.
"The facilities at Lismore are world class and this is a big thing to encourage more young players.”
Knowles said one of the attractions of the game was hockey was a sport for life.
"Hockey is a proper family sport,” he said.
"My little fella, who is four, has started and my parents still play in their 60s. There are masters playing over 70s and more opportunities than ever to play the game.”
The Kookaburras captain said he felt there was a lot of talent in the region and he paid tribute to people such as clinic organiser Clint Mallet, who is president of FNC Hockey.
"The coaches and people like Clint have a lot of passion for the sport,” he said.
"All of the regions have coaching directors now, there are talent identification camps and now kids aged 11 or 12 can make a region or state team.
"Hockey is a pretty awesome sport ... it's a Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games sport, so there are some fantastic pathways for youngsters.”
According to Mallet, 63, the clinic was sensational for the children who gained a great deal of experience from the elite athletes whom he said were generous with their knowledge and advice.
"We were thrilled to have Jodie there. She's an amazing player and scored her 100th goal for Australia while at the Rio Olympics,” he said.
"Having all three players there was a fantastic day. The kids learnt a lot of new techniques and had a memorable experience.”
Mallet said new players were always welcome.
For more information visit www.revolutionise.com.au/fnchi/