Buschl not out of place in NZ team

New Black Stick Malachi Buschl reflects on his international debut. Photo: Linda Robertson
New Black Stick Malachi Buschl reflects on his international debut. Photo: Linda Robertson
Malachi Buschl owes his sister, Georgia, a big thank you.

Her team was short a player seven years ago and she talked him into filling in. Now he is a Black Stick - thanks, Sis.

The 18-year-old made his international debut last month on the tour of India. It completed a rapid rise for the talent midfielder.

He got the good news while watching brother Ezekiel represent Southern at the national under-18 tournament in Dunedin last month.

His phone rang and it was Black Sticks coach Darren Smith.

''He said 'we'd like you to join us' ... and my initial reaction was I was very surprised,'' Buschl said.

''Obviously it had been a goal of mine for a long time but to get the call so early - I didn't think I'd debut that early.''

''The excitement took over. I got the call on Thursday and was flying out of here on Saturday, so it was a really quick turnaround.''

The University of Otago biochemistry student played in all three games.

The Black Sticks struggled during the series, losing 4-2, 3-1 and 4-0. But for Buschl it was a tremendous experience which should serve him well in the future.

He was included as a development player and got some excellent feedback from Smith about his performance.

''He was pretty complimentary. I got called over there on a whim so he was pleased with how I went at such short notice.

''But there is always things you can improve on and he gave me some advice.''

Smith would like to see Buschl work on protecting the ball and pressing forward more. But overall the teenager got a glowing report card and he did not feel out of place, which is important.

''The level - I was actually quite comfortable. Probably more comfortable than I thought I would be.

''I was pretty pleased with my performance in the first two games - the last game probably not so much.''

Buschl, who was yesterday named in the under-21 men's squad for the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia in October alongside provincial team-mate Jordan Ward, has been training with the national squad throughout the year so that helped with the transition to international hockey.

Buschl grew up in Outram and went to secondary school at King's High School. He had some good role models in the likes of Kane Russell and Hugo Inglis, who grew up in Dunedin and have gone on to forge impressive international careers.

Hockey was not his first love, though. He started taking it seriously when he saw a pathway in the sport.

''I was doing everything I could and hockey was not kind of my main sport.

''But in year 10 I decided hockey could take me places and decided to crack on with that. It has worked out pretty well, I think.''

It certainly has. The teenager already has three caps for his country and will be giving the sport everything in a bid to make the squad for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

''It is a goal and obviously a fairly tough one. We've got a lot of good midfielders in the New Zealand programme at the moment. I just don't think I'd be doing myself justice if I did give it a crack.''

Add a Comment