Local hockey goal­keeper to take on the world

Euroa Gazette - - NEWS - By WILL MUR­RAY

EUROA hockey club’s gun goal­keeper Andy Wil­liams has been se­lected to rep­re­sent Aus­tralia this Novem­ber in Perth.

Hav­ing earnt an in­vi­ta­tion to trial for the squad down in Mel­bourne, Andy was se­lected as the num­ber one goal­keeper for Aus­tralian hockey player Chris Ciriello’s un­der 16 train­ing squad.

While Ciriello’s squad will be play­ing in Vic­to­rian colours, the squad is se­lected from play­ers across the coun­try, and is the only Aus­tralian team at the 10-day tour­na­ment fea­tur­ing sides from Singapore, Malaysia, and Ja­pan’s na­tional team.

“It’s pretty ex­cit­ing,” Andy told the

“It’s also a bit nerve wrack­ing at the same time. But I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to be­ing part of a team that gets to play some re­ally high stan­dard hockey.”

Hav­ing taken up the game in 2012, Andy quickly es­tab­lished him­self as a se­ri­ous goal­keep­ing tal­ent, and has played in goal since 2013.

Although shorter than most goal­keep­ers, what set Andy apart dur­ing the squad tri­als down at the State Hockey Cen­tre in Mel­bourne was his speed and agility, ac­cord­ing to mum, Vanessa Wil­liams.

“The other goal­keep­ers tri­al­ing for the team were prob­a­bly taller than Andy, but I think it was his speed that re­ally caught the eye of se­lec­tors Lou Ciriello and Bobby Payne,” Vanessa said.

“They iden­ti­fied some tal­ent in Andy and I think they were keen to take him on and see if they can train him up.”

What makes his se­lec­tion all the more im­pres­sive is the fact that Euroa Hockey Club, of which Andy is a mem­ber, does not have a proper field to play on, and only re­cently ac­quired a full size goal.

As Andy ex­plained, he rarely trains un­der proper, match-like con­di­tions.

“Since I be­gan play­ing we’ve mostly trained on floor­boards at the high school,” Andy said.

“Be­cause we didn’t re­ally have a goal, and we didn’t train on turf, most of the time I didn’t re­ally train as a goalie at all. I just played on the field with ev­ery­one else.”

Be­ing part of the squad will give Andy ex­po­sure to some of the best coach­ing pos­si­ble, and in the Perth Sta­dium- which will also play host to the up­com­ing Aus­tralian Hockey League sea­son- play the chance to play on some of Aus­tralia’s best fields.

Be­tween now and the tour­na­ment the play­ers will be re­quired to at­tend a num­ber of train­ing camps to al­low the play­ers to get to know one an­other and to gel as a team.

To ease to bur­den of travel, those ses­sions will be split be­tween Mel­bourne and Al­bury.

Andy will also have to ad­here to a strict train­ing and diet regime, and con­tinue to self-mon­i­tor his progress with both.

The play­ers will fly to Perth a few days be­fore the tour­na­ment be­gins for some fur­ther team bond­ing and fi­nal train­ing be­fore they be­gin play­ing com­pet­i­tively.

Be­fore he can head to the tour­na­ment, Andy needs to up­grade his goalie gear.

Goalie gear can be very ex­pen­sive, es­pe­cially when you re­quire in­ter­na­tional-stan­dard pro­tec­tion, which can cost thou­sands of dol­lars.

“The stuff I’ve been us­ing was ok when you’re play­ing for Euroa, but not when you’re play­ing against the Ja­panese na­tional team. They hit it a little harder,” Andy said.

“It’s not cheap to get all new gear, but it’s not re­ally an op­tion to keep go­ing with the old stuff.”

The Novem­ber tour­na­ment dates mean that Andy, who is cur­rently com­plet­ing year 10 at FCJ Col­lege in Be­nalla, will have to sit his ex­ams late to be able to head to Perth.

It seems a small price to pay, how­ever, for a chance to play in­ter­na­tional-level hockey and to be coached by Aus­tralian na­tional play­ers.

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