THE future of Bathurst hockey is looking bright with the selection of Millie Fulton, Rani Johnson and Fletcher Norris into their respective NSW Under 13s representative sides.
The trio produced standout performances for the Bathurst Hockey Association at their respective State Championships events at Tamworth (Fulton and Johnson) and Armidale (Norris) last month.
A trip west is on the cards for the group as they travel to Perth for the Australian Championships, running from September 28 to October 8.
Striker Norris is no stranger to state representation after being a part of last year’s under 13s squad.
For attacking midfielder Fulton and goalkeeper Johnson it’s their first taste of hockey at this level.
Fulton’s father and local coach, Brad, said there’s great signs ahead for Bathurst junior hockey.
“There’s been a bit of a lull in our state selections over the years, with maybe one or even none per year. It’s good to see that growing, and looking forward to the age groups below these kids there’s another group coming through,” he said.
“Fletcher has been identified early as a quality player, and hockey is quite easy for him. He’s very talented and will be picked in lots of teams going forward.
“Rani was picked up last year as a goalkeeper … and Millie has a harder field there in the midfield where there’s a lot of quality around.
“It takes a long time to make a hockey player. When they do identify you it’s not as difficult to make your way forward through the age groups.
“Making these sides isn’t beyond anyone, but it’s dependent on how much time and effort you put into it.”
Both Bathurst teams performed strongly at the State Championships.
Millie Fulton, Johnson and girls side picked up a top three finish while Fletcher’s boys team went close to doing the same, taking fourth.
Brad Fulton said the excellent team performances contributed to the trio’s selection.
“Even though everyone is graded individually at the State Championships your team has to play well. None of the kids could have made it on their own. They’ve got to have a solid team around them,” he said.
“When the team plays well the ball moves around the field and all the players get to have a good go, and get a higher ranking. It’s difficult to have a good player in a bad team make it through.
“The idea with Bathurst hockey, especially, is to make strong teams, so that will allow those who can go forward to do so. Without that strength in the team no-one has got a chance.
“It’s a full year sport now. These kids get a month off, and if you’re not putting in the effort then these teams are difficult to make.”