The New Zealand Masters national titles are set to make a strong comeback next month in Tauranga on the north island, writes Bill Tomkins.
Last year’s event was cancelled the night before it was due to start. With an outbreak of COVID in Auckland it was seen as too risky to proceed due to the possibility of a mass infection spreading event.
Tauranga Hockey was extremely well organised and prepared for last year’s event.
The success in the way they prepared has seen them being selected as hosts for this year’s event, set for Feb 20-26.
The event has continued to grow with new teams added in virtually every age group in the past few years with biggest growth in the over-34s women’s and men’s.
Hockey New Zealand Masters are innovative in that they have a draft and transfer system that allows player to self-nominate for selection.
This allows players that live in regions that may not have teams or who were not selected by their local association to be available for selection. Every year sees most of these players to be selected by teams to attend the event.
The tournament is used for selection for New Zealand sides to attend the World Cup and the bi-annual Trans-Tasman series against Australia.
Even though there is still some uncertainty amongst New Zealand players about the World Cup going ahead, the nominations are already higher than in the past.
Many players, especially in the younger age groups are making long-term plans based around the Trans-Tasman series that will be held in New Zealand in 2023.
The restrictions placed on players over the last few years seems to have done little to dampen their enthusiasm. The early indications are that the event this year will be larger and stronger in all age groups for the Women’s and Men’s competition.
Exciting times ahead.
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