A FAR North Coast team built around youth has taken out one of the major titles for female hockey players in New South Wales.
It was the first time the zone has sent an open women's team to the state championships in several years.
They returned home as Division 3 state champions after a 4-2 win over Manning Valley in the final.
They went through the tournament undefeated and were always going to be hard to run down after a 3-0 win over Illawarra South Coast in the semi-final.
The team comprised Maya McGrath, Hollie Matthews, Corinna Busse, Karina Perris, Abby Allsopp, Kate Whiting, Britney Gwynne, Alana Albertini, Georgia Brown, Taquira McGrath, Cori Hardy, Clancy Miller, Lara Truman, Hannah Hosie and Kate Marshall.
They were coached by Adrian McGrath and managed by Sherilee Matthews with help from Callum Brown.
Some of the team were also part of the Trinity Catholic College team who won the open girls NSW Combined Catholic Colleges championship earlier this month.
It has been a big season for Albertini; she has been a standout at representative level and was recently selected in a Hockey Australia future talent program.
The Trinity Catholic College student caught the eye of selectors playing for New South Wales at the Australian under-18s championships in Cairns.
The Futures Program is the first time players are nationally identified with coaches looking at potential players for the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria and 2032 Brisbane Olympics.
"Selection was really difficult as some players have missed a lot of competition because of COVID," coach Mark Knowles said.
"Some states had two teams in both genders so we were looking across both younger and top end aged athletes. In the end we had to look at players who performed well in the tournament.
"We also took information from coaches and managers on how players conduct themselves off the field and looked where there are gaps in our senior programs that may need filling as we work towards the LA Olympics in 2028 and Brisbane 2032.
"What we shared in the education session we held with players and parents in Cairns is that this age group is absolutely vital for our growth towards LA in 2028 and 2032 in Brisbane.
"What we know from the data is that the average age of an Olympic medallist in hockey is 26.8 years, so these players are in the age criteria when it comes to medalling in LA and Brisbane.
"We saw a lot of potential. Some of the positives were seeing athletes' ability to play in multiple positions and structures, which was one of my concerns at last year's U18 championships.
"This year the tactical knowledge and way the teams played was better...which could be put down to a host of factors."
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