AUSTRALIA’S elite young hockey players have chosen the Gold Coast as their training ground, with Hockey Australia’s Elite Junior Camp taking up residence for a fortnight.
Around 50 boys and 50 girls, six of them from the Gold Coast region, are participating in the training camp at Keith Hunt Park in Labrador – which will be the home of the hockey competition for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The camp participants are part of the National Futures Program, with many considered potential prospects for the 2016 Junior World Cups, to be held in India and Chile.
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Mayor Tom Tate met with some of the players and coaches today to welcome them to the city.
“The City of Gold Coast provided some incentive funding to bring these camps here as part of our Sport Plan, which aims to make our city a sporting events capital as well as strengthen sports at a grass roots level,” he said.
“Hockey is one of the big legacy winners from the Commonwealth Games, with the redevelopment of Keith Hunt Park to transform it into a world-class facility with international-standard pitches. It is due for completion 12 months out from GC2018 and will be capable of holding 5,000 spectators.”
Michael Crooks, Hockey Australia’s National Talent Pathway Manager, said the camps had been built around the Gold Coast as it aligns its junior development over the next four years with the Commonwealth Games.
“The priority focus during the camp is on skill acquisition in a training environment with the opportunity to put those skills into practice in matches. This camp features on-turf training sessions and development workshops on a range of other elements, including education on nutrition, anti-doping, team dynamics and psychology,” he said.
“We’re grateful to the Australian Commonwealth Games Association for its support in helping us fund opportunities to develop these young athletes in the lead up to GC2018, and to the Mayor, the City of Gold Coast and the entire Gold Coast community for making us so welcome. Without the generous support of Gold Coast Hockey Association, Labrador Hockey Club, The Southport School and Griffith University, this camp would simply not have happened.”
Cr Tate said as a result of the camp being held on the Gold Coast, male and female teams from both New Zealand and Japan, along with a men’s team from India, were all visiting during the fortnight to play the national youth development teams.
Former Kookaburra Matthew Wells, Olympic gold medallist and current Queensland Academy of Sport men’s hockey head coach, is leading the men’s camp. Olympic bronze medallist Craig Victory, also a former Kookaburra, and currently Australian National Junior Coach, is leading the women’s camp.
Local school children will also benefit from the camp, with a number of coaching clinics on offer from older participating athletes.