Sunday, May 8, 2011

Under 21 New Zealand vs Malaysia test series to take place in Dunedin

The Malaysian Under-21 juniors will play a four test series against their Black Stick counterparts in Dunedin from June 2 to 8. This series will be held in view of the new high performance programme for juniors being conducted by Hockey New Zealand.

Hockey New Zealand’s star manager, Toni Cumpston, said, “It is a real coup to have the Malaysia team coming across to play us. This is exactly the type of experience that our younger players need so that we strengthen our talent base and have more people vying for Black Sticks selection.”

A junior Black Stick men’s team, along with a women’s team, will be announced subsequent to the recently held National Under-21 Tournament from May 7-14 at the Alexander McMillan Hockey Centre in Dunedin.

“Knowing that selectors are in the stands and that both our Junior Black Sticks teams have been invited to participate in international competitions will be an extra incentive for players to give it all they have got when they take to the turf next week,” added Cumpston.

Initially, the squad will be announced and a total 30 players will be invited to a training camp. Following this, the squad will be short-listed to a total of 20 players. Both these junior squads have invitations to international competitions, later this year. The tournaments include one in Malaysia for men and one in India for women.

The U-21 men will be playing the first junior seven-nation Invitational in Malaysia which is called the First Sultan Ibrahim Cup Tournament, to be held from October 27 to November 6.

On the other hand, the women’s junior squad will play the Lal Bahadur Shastri Under-21 Women's Hockey Tournament, being held from November 8 to12 in India.

According to Cumpston, the intention is to give international exposure to top playing as well as providing them with top coaching to age group players so that they improve their abilities. In view of the fact that these players are future Black Sticks, it is important to facilitate them as much as possible.

In context to the international series ahead, it will be a great encounter for the U-21 Kiwi boys against the Malaysian counterparts. Moreover, the visiting team will be hosted by the Otago Hockey Association of New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the senior side of the Black Sticks is currently playing the seven-nation Invitational in Malaysia, the 20th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. The team so far has played one game against Pakistan in which they ended up with a defeat at 4-2.
It was a disappointing opening for the team, however, is playing to make up in their next game against Korea on May 8.