The Vantage National Under-18 Tournaments are underway on Sunday and will see the continuation of the association-based competitions that we saw last year for the first time in over a decade.
The National Under-18s, which runs from 10-16 July, are now the first age-group tournament opportunities for players, umpires, coaches and managers to perform on the national stage.
The National Under-18 Women’s Tournament will see 21 association teams descend on Nelson to compete for the Amanda Hooper Memorial Trophy – named after the former Black Stick who was tragically killed in the Christchurch earthquake. North Harbour and Auckland shared the title last year after horrendous weather caused the match to be abandoned and no doubt both teams will be looking to secure it for themselves this time around.
The National Under-18 Men’s Tournament is this year hosted in Palmerston North and will feature 20 association teams competing for the Paul Ackerley Memorial Trophy – named after the 1976 Olympic gold medallist and former Black Sticks women’s coach who passed away in 2011 after a short illness. The men’s title is currenlty held by North Harbour who will face stiff competition in their defence.
Hockey NZ General Manager Community Hockey and Events Ken Maplesden said it will be great to see our top youth players going head-to-head and continuing to build on the great work that associations have been doing to open up hockey.
“Our national under-18s are our pinnacle youth competitions and will be a great showcase of our best association-based teams as they strive to be named national champions.
“The tournaments are a fantastic opportunity for players to stick their hands up on the national stage and put themselves on show as we restart our Junior Black Sticks programme. It’s also a great opportunity for our young umpires to begin their pathways into elite umpiring.”
To watch the CelloSport coverage of all matches, visit the Hockey New Zealand YouTube channel here.