The Goulburn District Hockey Association has confirmed that it will have a strong presence at the upcoming NSW Indoor Hockey State Championships.
Six of the 10 State Championships are scheduled to take place in Goulburn between January and February. They were initially set to begin in October 2021 and run through to early December, but Hockey NSW postponed all events until 2022 due to the COVID-19 outbreak across the state.
The competitions to take place at Goulburn's Veolia Arena include the Open Men (Jan 7-9), Open Women (Jan 14-16), Under 18s Boys (Jan 21-23), Under 18 Girls (Jan 28-30), Masters Men (Feb 4-6), and Masters Women (Feb 11-13).
Orange will host the other four State Championship events, namely the Under 15s Boys and Girls (Jan 14-17), and Under 13s Boys and Girls (Jan 28-31).
Despite the delay, GDHA rep secretary, Sharney Fleming, confirmed that the association still intended to field teams in almost all divisions.
Goulburn sides will feature in every age group from the Opens and below, except the Under 15s Boys, which Fleming said is currently a little light on for players.
"We don't have a 15s boys, that's a real difficult age group for us," she said.
"It was earlier this year as well, and we're hoping that we'll rebuild again. There's always a year where you have a down, but as far as the rest, we're good to go with all of them."
Team nominations for the Masters divisions are open until December 10, and as such Goulburn has not yet confirmed its presence in those age groups.
Due to the general strength of Goulburn hockey, Fleming is confident that the local teams can be competitive in their respective divisions.
This is bolstered by the fact that some of the associations which are traditionally strong have elected not to participate this year.
"I think it's a hard year, because they put them on in January and the 15s and the Opens are on at the same time in Orange and here, which is really hard," Fleming said.
"A lot of places aren't even fielding teams for January because it's too much for them, and people want to go on holidays. A lot of families are away.
"I would like to think we'll be quite competitive, it depends on who else comes in though. I know that Port Macquarie and places like that aren't putting teams in for January."
It will be the first time since 2019 that Goulburn has hosted the State Championships, which were cancelled last year due to the coronavirus.
Prior to that, they were held twice consecutively in town, and were a major boon for both local hockey and the local economy.
"To host the championships here is a big achievement for Goulburn," Fleming said.
"We've got Veolia Arena, which is a wonderful centre for it, and it brings a lot of business into town. It's a very positive thing for Goulburn, and a positive thing for hockey."
While you're with us...
Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up here.