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Building the future . . . Hockey South Cantebury's operations manager Amanda Everett. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

The rising profile of hockey in the region has spurred Hockey South Canterbury to create a new paid position.

Amanda Everett has been appointed by Hockey South Canterbury’s board and took up her 30-hour-a-week position as operations manager last month.

“The new position is an exciting and proactive development which is designed to reflect and accommodate the growth of the sport and participants within the region,” Hockey South Canterbury president Craig Copland said.

The board was attempting to move away from “hands-on” management towards a more governance and strategic role.

Everett has taken on the task of overseeing the day-to-day running of Hockey South Canterbury as well as implementing strategies and policies adopted by the board.

“I’ve done administration for hockey for four years but the role has grown as things have changed,” Everett said.

“The volunteer base is not as available as it used to be.

“All sports are now more competitive trying to get people to play their sport. We see it as a good move to change the role, to grow participation in the future in the hope hockey will be the sport of choice in South Canterbury.”

Player numbers had increased slightly in the past few years and this season more than 1000 players, aged from 4 to 60-plus, had been turning out in competitions.

“It’s in good heart. We’ve sent away nine representative teams each year from development kids through to adults.”

One disappointment has been that a women’s senior representative team has not taken to the field but Everett said this was cyclical

“Women play when they are younger then go away, have children and some come back later on.

“We’ve still got huge numbers in juniors and we’ve got a great development officer [Janelle Amalifotano].”

Even though she had never played hockey she was passionate about the sport, having become involved through her children who played, Everett said.

“I see it as a game for life and a sport anyone can play.

“It’s a really safe sport compared to rugby and netball.

The sport had received good media attention recently and she expected this would increase when a new world professional league began next year, bringing international teams, both men and women, to the country to participate.

As the sport had prospered locally it had drawn players from outside to attend tournaments, which provided an opportunity to showcase the region, Everett said.

“We’ve hosted tournaments every year for five years. In September we’ll have the Johnson Cup for secondary school players from around the country and then the South Island Masters [Games] in October.”

Former South Canterbury player and current Black Stick Sam Lane would be in Timaru on September 29 to hold a coaching clinic for all grades, which was being eagerly anticipated, and locals were enthused by the progress of two other rising stars from the region, Abby Lennon and Harrison Darling.

The big challenge for hockey was competing with other sports for players, Everett said.

“You have to have a point of difference to encourage people into your sport.”