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Success at Small Sticks Festival

HOCKEY

Junior hockey players got to test their skills against teams from around the North Island when they travelled to Hawke’s Bay for a festival of hockey last week.

The Big Save Small Sticks Festival which is held annually for primary school-age children was expanded this year to include an intermediate age-grade tournament.

Three local teams travelled to compete in the tournament — Makaraka, Gizzy Hard and Gizzy Crew. The teams were organised through the coaches and managers, rather than schools.

Gizzy Crew came first in the Year 7/8 division, beating Taradale Intermediate Yr 8 in the final.

Their manager Tracey Fergus said that after the “really weird year” everyone’s had because of Covid, it was great for the children to get back out on the turf.

“The kids have missed so much this year . . . the main reason (we went) is so these kids could have some fun and play some hockey.

“When you live in Gisborne you play with the same people . . . it was lots of fun.”

The team was made up of students from Gisborne Intermediate and played 14 games over two-and-a-half days.

Finals day of the Yr 7/8 tournament saw teams separated into a top and bottom four to decide final placings. The Gizzy Hard team won the lower bracket finals to finish fifth.

Fergus said both teams had conflicting schedules for most of the tournament week, but the upper and lower bracket finals were held back-to-back so they could support each other.

The Makaraka team played in the Year 5/6 Kiwi Sticks grade, finishing second to PP Phoenix from Pillans Point School in Tauranga.

Their coach, Bonny Seymour, said while Makaraka School wasn’t involved in organising the team, all his players were students there.

“Considering the school is relatively small and most of the other schools have thousands of students, we did really well.”

Seymour coached the team because his son is “a hockey fanatic”, playing in the tournament for the past three years. “He’ll take any chance to get out against different opponents . . .

“The team’s time in Napier, in terms of exposure, you can’t ask for much more.”

His team were dominant in pool play but were outclassed by the team from Tauranga in the finals. Their opponents had only let one goal in on their way to the finals, “and they didn’t have a keeper on when it was scored”.

SMALL STICKS WINNERS: Gizzy Crew at the Big Save Small Sticks Festival prizegiving after winning the Year 7/8 grade. They are, from left to right, Ollie Egan, Charlie Henry, Sam Williams, Harry Hayward, Austin Fergus, Tom Fletcher, Dylan Storey, Brooke Mathews, Emily Petro and Georgie Beaufoy. Picture supplied
A TOP TEAM: Makaraka placed second in the Yr 5/6 grade, losing to PP Phoenix in the final. They are, from left to right, Corbyn Seymour, Khan Koia, William Andrew, Liam Spence, Raffaele Colucci, Bonny Seymour (coach), Christabel Mackenzie, Kaycee Andrew, Bella Swann, Anna Spence and Oscar Hayward. Picture supplied