HIGH PER­FORMER CADE EM­BRAC­ING ELITE ROLE

Qld call-up at ideal time for ris­ing Ip­swich goal­keeper

The Queensland Times - - SPORT - DAVID LEMS david.lems@qt.com.au .

HAV­ING trained vir­tu­ally full-time at elite level all year, Cade Ban­ditt was ready for the next stage of his promis­ing hockey ca­reer.

The rapidly ris­ing Ip­swich goal­keeper has re­ceived it.

Ban­ditt has been se­lected to rep­re­sent the Queens­land Blades for the first time at the Aus­tralian Hockey League cham­pi­onships in Perth later this month.

The Kholo-based sports­man had al­ready been recog­nised in the Aus­tralian Fu­tures squad and shared in the suc­cess of the Queens­land un­der 21 team which came sec­ond at this year’s na­tional ti­tles.

How­ever, earn­ing a call-up to the Blades is a piv­otal mo­ment for any hockey player, let alone in a year when all the Aus­tralian play­ers are avail­able and with the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games just months away.

“The year to make it will be this year,’’ said Ban­ditt, who turns 19 next month.

“I’ve been train­ing as hard as I ever have.’’

That in­cludes three ses­sions a week with the Blades, Queens­land un­der 21s and state high per­for­mance squad. He also does early Satur­day morn­ing train­ing and two ses­sions a week in the gym.

The for­mer St Ed­mund’s Col­lege stu­dent said re­ceiv­ing the call from Blades head coach and for­mer in­ter­na­tional great Matt Wells was just what he was wait­ing for.

He’s ex­cited about mak­ing his de­but in the state se­nior side.

“We’ve got a full-strength team go­ing away so there’s no ex­cuses this year,’’ he said.

“Over the last 10 years, the Blades have had a great rep­u­ta­tion.’’

The Ip­swich achiever is one of two goal­keep­ers in the cur­rent Blades squad, along with Matt Finn.

When asked who is help­ing him the most, Ban­ditt an­swered: “Just train­ing with all the boys and es­pe­cially Matt Wells. He’s been my coach for the high per­for­mance squad, the un­der 21s and the Blades.

“He’s been the one pretty much there the whole run.’’

Ban­ditt is head­ing to Perth for the first time for the cham­pi­onships from Septem­ber 28-Oc­to­ber 8.

Ip­swich-bred in­ter­na­tional player Jor­dyn Holzberger is play­ing for the Queens­land Scorchers team in the Women’s AHL tour­na­ment.

An­other Ip­swich teenager Layla Elei­son will be rep­re­sent­ing Tas­ma­nia at the same cham­pi­onships hav­ing also im­pressed at Queens­land un­der 21 and un­der 18 level in re­cent months.

Ban­ditt, Holzberger and Elei­son will play against teams from Aus­tralia’s other states and ter­ri­to­ries, as well as sides from In­dia and New Zealand who have been in­vited to take part in the two-week tour­na­ment.

The Scorchers are look­ing to de­fend their ti­tle af­ter tak­ing out the AHL Cham­pi­onship in 2015 and 2016.

The Blades fin­ished fifth in 2016 af­ter win­ning the ti­tle in 2015.

For Ban­ditt, the AHL op­por­tu­nity is im­por­tant at a cru­cial stage of his hockey ca­reer.

His pre­vi­ous ma­jor tour­na­ment was rep­re­sent­ing the Aus­tralian Fu­tures squad in Tri-se­ries against Ja­pan and New Zealand last year. The Aus­tralian un­der 21 na­tion­als were this year in Wol­lon­gong, set­ting the foun­da­tion for his pro­mo­tion to the Blades’ open team.

“I’ve de­cided not to go over­seas this year just to con­cen­trate on this,’’ he said.

His train­ing program in­cludes reg­u­lar ses­sions at the QAS at Mt Gra­vatt and the State Hockey Cen­tre.

Ban­ditt is en­joy­ing the strength and con­di­tion­ing side of his sport.

“I’m find­ing it great,’’ he said. “Now, I’ve got­ten more fa­mil­iar with all the gym side of it . . . get­ting more used to be­ing in that kind of en­vi­ron­ment.’’

Ban­ditt is also main­tain­ing his bal­anced ap­proach by study­ing a Bach­e­lor of Law De­gree at USQ.

He’s in his first year study­ing while pur­su­ing his higher hockey am­bi­tions.

❝The year to make it will be this year

— Cade Ban­ditt

PHOTO: DAVID NIELSEN

FIT AND READY: Queens­land Blades goal­keeper Cade Ban­ditt is pre­par­ing for the Aus­tralian Hockey League in Perth.

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