After the flurry that was the lead-in to Christmas, January has disappeared and we find ourselves in the throes of international hockey with the 2019 FIH Pro League set to kick off tomorrow at Nga Puna Wai. If you haven't already, make sure you get your tickets for tomorrow night when the Black Sticks men and women will take on Great Britain, in what is set to be a cracker night of hockey.
While summer is still going strong many of our clubs and schools will be preparing for the 2019 hockey season.
There is a sense of excitement as the two brand new world-class turfs at Nga Puna Wai come on-stream and clubs and schools will begin using them for trials, practices, and ultimately competition games when the 2019 season kicks off at the end of March.
Our Regional Performance Centre athletes are already using the two turfs, dugouts, lights, water cannons and grandstand but the changing rooms and Social Hub building were only completed at the end of last week, with a traditional Maori blessing occuring last Friday.
Obviously the major priority for the Nga Puna Wai site at present is the three FIH Pro League sessions taking place tomorrow, Friday 15 and Sunday 17 February. Hockey NZ has moved into the Hub building and the turfs have been allocated to the Black Sticks and the visiting international teams. Due to continually changing scheduling for these teams Canterbury Hockey are unable to open access to the Nga Puna Wai fields to our clubs or schools until Monday 18 February. We are confident most club and school pre-season requirements can be met on our existing turfs until then - helped hugely by Marist Hockey who made their turf available for pre-season bookings.
Canterbury Hockey is also working closely with Sport Canterbury, who manage the Nga Puna Wai site, around how we use our turfs, outside of Pro League, for our normal pre-season and in-season activity. There is still a few details to be sorted before full usage of the turfs begins, including Council processes, security, safety signage and general workability of the site. On the 'Big Picture' list we are still discussing Canterbury Hockey's admin team options for moving to Nga Puna Wai, and how we can deliver a great social environment to our community.
One of the things we, and all our hockey community, need to be aware of is that other sports and the general public will be active throughout Nga Puna Wai. We are working with Sport Canterbury around planned athletic events in February and March that may have some impact on our hockey community accessing the turfs when these events occur.
Bringing Nga Puna Wai on-stream still involves a lot of work and requires a lot of focus from us all. At the same time we need to continue to deliver our Masters and Summer competitions on our current turfs, plan our 2019 competitions and continue to work at growing and developing our sport. There is no doubt that Canterbury Hockey's immediate future is incredibly exciting and to have a world-class event like FIH Pro League kicking off hockey at Nga Puna Wai just adds to this excitement.
To find out when things are happening, check out our 2019 Calendar here.