NZ Blax have high hopes for world cup

Auckland City Harbour News - - OUT & ABOUT - SAMHEWAT

The New Zealand Blax have set bold am­bi­tions for the 2017 Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in Eng­land.

Mov­ing from 12th to 11th on the world rank­ings in the 2013 edition wasn’t enough, and now they want to crack the top five.

It will be a tough task in a tour­na­ment that is con­tin­u­ally ex­pand­ing - this year’s com­pe­ti­tion will have six new teams added mak­ing a to­tal of 25.

How­ever, the ex­tra hur­dles aren’t both­er­ing NZ Blax vet­eran Sian Keys, who will be at­tend­ing her fourth world cup.

‘‘We didn’t quite per­form to our true po­ten­tial in 2013,’’ Keys said.

‘‘Go­ing into this world cup in July, our tar­get is to re­ally be up there in the top five, but that’s a stretch goal.’’

The coun­tries stand­ing in the Ki­wis way are dom­i­nant forces.

The United States hold the top spot, with Canada, Aus­tralia, and Eng­land close be­hind.

How­ever, the game con­tin­ues to grow in New Zealand and in re­cent times, a host of young New Zealand women have ven­tured into the US col­lege sys­tem and helped fur­ther the na­tional team’s com­pet­i­tive­ness.

‘‘The amount they are learn­ing up there is amaz­ing,’’ Keys said.

‘‘And bring­ing that all back here with their skills and coach­ing makes us a lot more com­pet­i­tive.’’

Keys had a slightly unortho­dox path to New Zealand’s na­tional team.

A na­tive of Eng­land, the One Tree Hill res­i­dent started play­ing when she was 12 at her board­ing school.

She de­buted for Wales in 1999, play­ing in two world cups, be­fore ap­ply­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Lacrosse to switch al­le­giances to New Zealand after mov­ing here to be with her Kiwi hus­band.

And while the choice of a niche sport like lacrosse might seem un­usual to some, for 33-year-old Keys it’s been an in­te­gral part of her life.

‘‘For me, it’s al­ways been an awe­some way of meet­ing and get­ting to know peo­ple,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s re­ally fast paced, you need good hand-eye co­or­di­na­tion and a good com­bi­na­tion of fit­ness and speed.’’

The New Zealand Blax will fly out to Sur­rey, Eng­land in July, with the tour­na­ment’s roundrobin stages com­menc­ing on July 12.

SAM HEWAT/FAIR­FAX NZ

New Zealand Blax lacrosse stal­wart Sian Keys will travel to her fourth world cup this year, hop­ing her side can crack the top five.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.