Otago association 'excited to be part of' new structure

Andy McLean
Andy McLean
Changes to the way the national competitions are structured have been welcomed by the Otago Hockey Association.

But it is the proposed ''performance network'' that may cause some concern in the South.

Hockey New Zealand announced sweeping changes to its competitions and structures earlier this week.

The National Hockey League and the under-18 tournament will return to an association-based tournament in 2020.

The under-21 tournament will be replaced by a new event that will be established to provide competition for identified athletes, and the regional structure will be replaced by the development of a ''performance network''.

Details of the new competition are still being developed and what shape the performance network will take is unclear. Hockey New Zealand will make an announcement later in the year.

However, the Otago Daily Times understands the national body has proposed the development of four performance networks, which would be based in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

The changes have come out of the strategy delivery review that Hockey New Zealand began in early 2017.

Otago Hockey Association general manager Andy McLean said the move away from regional-based competitions to an association-based format was just a shift back to how it used to be.

''With my Otago hockey hat on, we are excited to be part of it,'' McLean said.

''It allows us to extend the Otago programme a little bit and we look forward to Otago competing in those two tournaments. We think they will be great events.''

In terms of the establishment of a performance network, McLean said he did not have enough information to say with any certainty what impact it would have on hockey in the region.

However, he said the association was ''committed and keen to be a meaningful part of that performance network''.

''We are working with Hockey New Zealand on what our role in that looks like.

''Obviously, in Hymie [Gill], we have a highly qualified coach down here. We have a number of identified and highly talented athletes who are in the New Zealand under-21 programme, and we've got a university and a polytechnic just across the road which has the ability to attract large numbers of the more talented athletes.

''We see ourselves as being an important part of that performance network.''

Asked about suggestions Dunedin would be overlooked as a location for one of the proposed performance hubs, McLean said it would be disappointing if that was the case.

''That has been floated but there is still plenty to do before that is confirmed. There is always going to be some pulling together of people in certain places, but we are just working hard on cementing our place in that performance network.''

North Otago Hockey Association president Jared Ovens said the changes would not have much impact in the northern reaches of the province.

''It is probably not going to affect us hugely,'' he said.

''The only thing that is probably going to help us is that we will probably retain the one or two players that always make the Southern teams.

''Now they will come back and be able to play for North Otago.''

Central Otago Hockey Association executive officer Sandra Stuart could not be reached for comment.


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