Ju­niors get shot at big time

Central Leader - - Sport -

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 skynet@xtra.co.nz.

By Scott Mor­gan

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

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.

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