Six Vantage Black Sticks feature in the New Zealand Under-21 squads named today in anticipation of the proposed Junior World Cups later in the year.
The women’s squad is incredibly strong featuring five Black Sticks squad members – Kaitlin Cotter, Katie Doar, Hope Ralph, Anna Crowley and recently named Under-21 Player of the Year Olivia Shannon.
The men’s squad includes new Black Stick Sean Findlay, who was also recently named Under-21 Player of the Year at the Hockey New Zealand Awards.
The FIH plans to hold Junior World Cups near the end of 2021 in Potchefstroom in South Africa for the women and India for the men. Argentina (women) and India (men) are the reigning champions.
The New Zealand Under-21 squads were named after the recent three-match Under-21 North v South series at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton which involved 36 men and 36 women.
Hockey New Zealand Performance Network Manager Simon Brill said the series was a successful way to re-start a programme that has had few opportunities recently.
“It’s really the first activity since the men’s Sultan Johor trophy in Malaysia in 2019 and the Women’s Tri-series in Australia in the same year.
“The Under-21s were embedded next to our main North v South series where the Vantage Black Sticks were competing for Olympic positions. The best players and coaches in the country created a fantastic environment to watch and learn.”
Brill adds that this age group is particularly important to our long-term athlete development.
“Competition opportunities are an essential part of a player’s long-term development. It gives us a chance to check in against the best in the world at this level. While the Junior World Cups themselves are spectacular, it is the learnings we bring home that make a real impact.”
The two Under-21 squads can be added to after the National Under-18 tournament in July and the National Hockey Championships in September.
New Zealand Under-21 Women: Katie Doar* (Northland); Sophie Hildesley (North Harbour); Breana Catley, Isabella Gill, Olivia Grigg, Alice McIlroy-Foster (GK) (Auckland); Emilie Logan (Tauranga); Leah Hodges, Sharnae Taylor, Eva Zylstra (Waikato); Hannah Cotter, Kaitlin Cotter*, Rileigh Knapp, Arabella Sheild (Hawke’s Bay); Saffron Cribb, Anna Crowley*, Hope Ralph* (Taranaki); Rebecca Baker (Whanganui); Olivia Shannon*, Madeleine Harris (Manawatu); Kelly Carline (Horowhenua); Jessica Kelly (Nelson); Isabella Ambrosius, Emily Baker, Hayley Cox, Charlotte Lee, Jenna-Rae McIntyre, Brittany Wang (Canterbury).
New Zealand Under-21 Men: Liam Mortimer (Northland); Luke Buxton, Calum Grassick (GK), Isaac Houlbrooke, Charl Ulrich (North Harbour); Aidan Fraser, Regan Harnell (GK), Luke Holmes, Joshua Irwin, Daniel Woud (Auckland); Campbell Maclean (Bay of Plenty); Luke Aldred, Jacob Soo-Choon (Waikato); Luke Elmes (GK), Sean Findlay* (Hawke’s Bay); Jordan Cohen, Patrick Madder, Connor Hoskin (Whanganui); Callum Olsen (Wellington); George Baker, Nicholas Lidstone, Joseph Morrison, Joshua White (GK), Simon Yorston (Canterbury); Zachary Mason, James Nicolson, Finn Ward (Otago).
*Vantage Black Sticks