Juniors get shot at big time
Top hockey defenders Arun Panchia and Danielle Jones are getting ready to stick it to international opposition.
Arun, 19, will travel to Malaysia twice this year – with the senior Black Sticks at the Azlan Shah tournament this month, and the Junior Black Sticks for the men’s under-21 world cup in June.
Danielle, 17, will represent the Junior Black Sticks at the women’s under-21 world cup in the United States in August.
They’ll take on teams such as India, the Netherlands and Pakistan.
Arun says his promotion to the Black Sticks for the first time came as a bit of a shock.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all. You go from being a senior player to the new kid.”
The former Mt Albert Grammar School student has been able to draw on the experience of senior international players during mixed training sessions with the junior and senior sides.
“I’ve been given the opportunity to give it a shot so I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Black Sticks men’s coach Shane McLeod says there are several reasons the Pt Chevalier resident has been given a chance at the top level.
“He is probably one of the top players coming through the ranks.
“Arun is a very composed sort of player for his age. Each time you put him in a new situation he adapts very quickly.”
Danielle, a year 13 student at Mt Albert Grammar, says training with the senior national squad has added something to her game, which helps when she turns out for the Junior Black Sticks.
“The international levels are so much higher than club or rep stuff,” she says.
Junior Black Sticks coach Chris Leslie says Danielle is a tenacious player who has come a long way in recent times.
“It’s a good opportunity to give her some exposure at that level and see how she stands up to it.”
While Arun’s trip to the Azlan Shah tournament is funded by New Zealand Hockey, he and Danielle have to come up with between $7000 and $8000 for their respective trips with the Junior Black Sticks.
Both are involved in various fundraising activities, but are relying on their families to help them raise the cash since they have heavy training schedules.
To raise funds for all the Auckland-based Junior Black Sticks, a casino night is being held on May 16 at St Cuthbert’s College.
Tickets are $30 with supper provided.
For details call 817-4944 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Scott Morgan
Overseas play: Junior Black Sticks Arun Panchia and Danielle Jones will travel to the men’s and women’s under-21 world cup hockey tournaments in Malaysia and the United States.