This Thursday will see the opening of the 2018 Australian Indoor Hockey Festival take place inside Veolia Arena.
The festival follows on from the “hugely successful” Hockey NSW Indoor State Championships which were held across late 2016 and early 2017, Member for Goulburn Pru Goward said.
The tournament will feature 53 teams comprised of over 800 players between the ages of 12 to 21, many of whom are among the best in the country.
It will be undertaken in a state-versus-state format, with the participants fighting for the chance to be crowned national champions.
Along with providing a massive opportunity for the kids taking part, the event will also serve to put Goulburn on the map for more high-profile sporting events, said Councillor Andrew Banfield.
“It means people in the town, bums on seats, and an open door to other regions and development places to look at what Veolia arena has to offer,” Cr Banfield said.
“We’ve had other tournaments, we’ve had vets, we’ve had juniors out there and everybody says it’s a great venue for hockey.”
Ms Goward’s statement concurred with Cr Banfield’s, and she said that it also “provides a fantastic opportunity for local businesses, accommodation providers, restaurants and tourism operators to capitalise on the influx of visitors and showcase why Goulburn is such a wonderful holiday destination.”
Along with the benefits to the tourism and hospitality sectors, Cr Banfield is also confident that the festival will benefit young, talented players in Goulburn.
“I think it’s going to be a great thing. There’ll be lots of scouts out there [at the festival] as well. All the important people for hockey development will be there,” he said.
Hockey Australia Competitions and Officiating Manager, Cheyne Hackett, said that the tournament was a great opportunity to assess young players.
“We’re always keeping an eye on everybody coming through,” Mr Hackett said.
“We’re still looking to select our next (Under 21’s) national squad to carry us through the next international period … [and] we’re always looking to deepen our development squad.”
Veolia Arena is no stranger to large-scale tournaments, and arena manager Scott Cooper is confident that his team have it ready to go ahead of Thursday’s festival opener.
“Preparations really good, we’ve just about got the whole stadium set up,” Mr Cooper said.
“The first training day starts tomorrow, the stadium should be a treat.”
Although he is unsure of exactly what to expect crowd-wise, Mr Cooper said that the arena “traditionally get[s] good crowds” for high-profile events.
“[This is] probably one of the highest profile events we’ve had. We have had some [big] basketball events with juniors and kids, but this is definitely the highest profile because it’s a national.”
The festival will start on Thursday January 4 and continue until Thursday January 25.