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Turf time . . . Gleniti School's 11-aside team members prepare for training at Aorangi Stadium in Timaru earlier this week. The sport continues to be a popular choice among youngsters this season.

by Alexia Johnston

Gleniti School is looking forward to another busy season on the hockey turf.

The sport had proved a popular choice at the school in recent years and this season was no exception, 11-a side coach Alex McLean said.

More than 60 pupils are playing for the school this season.

They represent one 11-a-side, two seven-a-side and three six-a-side teams.

Two of the six-a-side teams use half the turf, while the other six-a-side team, made up of the school’s youngest players, uses a quarter.

McLean said the sport’s popularity and success was driven by a supportive network of coaches, managers, parents and other volunteers who helped make each game happen.

She said the way Hockey South Canterbury ran the sport as an association also had a positive effect.

“And, [it is] also the amazing volunteers that are linked to schools, particularly Gleniti in our case, who give back to the sport. That could be coaching, it could be helping manage a team, they could be umpiring and also it’s the parents getting children to and from the games.”

McLean said the school had more junior than senior teams coming through the ranks, but overall the association was experiencing growth.

Hockey South Canterbury development officer Janelle Amalfitano said while she did not have exact numbers because registrations were still coming in, player numbers were up on last year, by up to 20 more.

As a result, both hockey turfs at the park were “bursting at the seams”.

Teams taking part in the competition came from as far afield as Mackenzie, Pleasant Point, Geraldine, St Andrews and Makikihi.

Of those teams, 44 play in a Tuesday night competition, comprising about 390 children.

A skill session called Fun Sticks will starts on Tuesday nights from next week. The sessions are for 4 to 6-year-olds and also include satellite lessons for Geraldine and Waihi.

“Hopefully, [those children] will feed into clubs next year.”

A Friday night competition for 11-a-side teams was also gearing up, which has this year attracted 15 teams.

Amalfitano said good organisation skills was the key to the association’s success.