Throughout New Zealand we continually see initiative being shown in different communities for the love of hockey. Everything from new ideas to small teams of people coming together to make the game happen. In 2019, we had multiple impressive applicants for our Community Initiative of the Year Award.
For 2019, the winner goes to the Canterbury Hockey Association and the Hurunui District for their initiative and hard work to get a new multipurpose turf in the district.
In June 2019, the Hurunui District had a massive boost with the official opening of a $450,000 multipurpose turf at Amuri Area School. The project had been in the pipeline for two years, and thanks to some passionate parents and a supportive principal, the half-turf is now used for six-a-side hockey and other sports such as futsal.
The construction of this facility has created a home for hockey in the Hurunui district. With a place to play hockey in its traditional format, the Hurunui Hock¬ey Club has provided residents with the opportunity to play hockey and has attracted interest from several people who have never played the sport before.
Amuri Area School principal James Griggs said he was approached by some school parents who wanted to provide more opportunities for people to play hockey in the area. “These parents were passionate about growing the sport and providing opportunities for our students and the community to get involved in hockey.”
Lourdes Mones-Cazon, a former representative player from Argentina, was one of the driving forces behind the project. The mother of seven had played for Waikato while living in the region, but after moving to Culverden discovered there were no opportunities for her or her family to play the sport she loved. “I started talking to some other parents, and we decided to advertise for people who might be interest¬ed in playing.”
“We had no turf to play on, so we had to play in the gym. One week out from our regis-tration closing date we had one team, and by the end of the week we had seven teams of 10 players.” Lourdes said although it was a social league, it got quite competitive.
“It was for this reason we knew we had to move out of the gym. So we went and talked to James, and it all started from there. When we officially opened the facility, it was like a dream come true,” she said.
Throughout the second half of 2019, the Hurunui Hockey Club implemented a range of skills programmes and social competitions. They delivered Hockey New Zealand’s Fun Sticks programme to 32 participants over 12 weeks, with the support of six coaches. In addition, they ran skills sessions and six-a-side games for children aged years 4-9 and finally ran a six-a-side summer hockey competition for men, women and intermediate/senior-aged children in mixed teams.
The construc¬tion of this new facility would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of Amuri Area School, the Hurunui Hockey Club and the North Canterbury Sports and Recreation Trust, as well as grants from Lottery, Rata, Pub Charities and the Amuri Area School Board of Trustees. James and Lourdes commented that support from The North Can¬terbury Sports Trust and Canterbury Hockey has also been instrumental in getting the project completed.
With the new multiple sports facility on the school’s site, the turf will be utilised for hockey, school-based sporting activities and other sporting codes training and/or matches. With Hurunui Hockey Clubs intentions to become an affiliated club of Canterbury Hockey, they have worked alongside Rangiora Hockey Club to provide a playing opportunity for their competitive athletes in Canterbury Hockey junior and open grade winter competitions.
These two groups will continue to work together throughout the next few years until Hurunui have enough playing numbers to create a stand-alone club.