For the third year in a row, Hockey New Zealand’s regional festivals have once again been a success, offering a valuable platform for young, aspiring players to hone their skills, build friendships, and enjoy hockey. These events are important for their role in nurturing emerging stars and instilling a passion for the sport within a supportive community while also providing more opportunities for more players.
The true spirit of the festivals lies not only in the numbers but in the inclusiveness and commitment of the hockey community. Beyond the players and umpires, numerous coaches, assistant coaches, managers, and coach developers contributed to the event’s success, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose.
Spanning four days at the National Hockey Centre, the U16 Northern Region Festival brought together around 700 players from Northland to the Bay of Plenty. The tournament featured an impressive turnout of 56 teams, encompassing both 11-a-side and 5-a-side competitions. The teams were supported by a dedicated group of 47 umpires and 15 umpire coaches.
Off the field, the festival offered social night activities and comprehensive development programs for umpires and managers, enhancing the overall experience and turning it into a holistic learning opportunity.
In Taranaki, the U15 Boys’ Lower North Island Festival brought together 13 teams competing over four days, with the added dimension of 15 junior umpires sharpening their skills alongside the young players. In the Wairarapa, the U15 Girls’ Lower North Island Festival followed suit with 13 teams displaying their talents.
The U15 Southern Regional Festival, spanning five exciting days in Christchurch, proved to be a lot of fun with a total of 15 boys’ teams and 19 girls’ teams on display. With one official developer and four umpire coaches in attendance, along with the commitment of 26 officials, the event provided invaluable mentorship for budding talents.
These regional festivals underscore Hockey New Zealand’s dedication to grassroots development and the belief that every participant, regardless of age or experience, plays a crucial role in the sport’s growth. And with over 2000 players, volunteers, coaches, officials, and managers, the state of hockey is strong.
These festivals showcase the best of hockey in New Zealand—a sport that empowers young players, fosters friendships, and sets the stage for a promising future.