Toa hockey qual­i­fies for premier grade

Kapi-Mana News - - YOUR HEALTH - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

A Porirua women’s hockey team has made his­tory by qual­i­fy­ing for the Welling­ton premier one grade for the first time.

Lisa Bishop who coaches and plays for the Toa team said it was a first for Porirua.

‘‘It took us three years and we worked re­ally hard to get here,’’ she said.

The team is iwi-based, mean­ing most of the play­ers come from the Ngati Toa iwi.

‘‘Mums, sis­ters, aun­ties and nan­nies have all played. Girls from the pa have al­ways played hockey.’’

The club cel­e­brated its 85-year an­niver­sary last year and Bishop it had not missed a sea­son.

‘‘It started with the wives from the pa fill­ing in the week­ends by play­ing sport.

They used to play the nurses from Porirua Hospi­tal on a grass field.’’

Be­ing part of an iwi team had its ben­e­fits, she said.

‘‘It gives us an ex­tra sense of pride to rep­re­sent Ngati Toa. We play as a fam­ily.’’ Bishop rep­re­sented New Zealand Maori when she was just 16 and was still play­ing for the side last year. The cen­tre half made her Black Sticks de­but in 2000. She has now re­turned to Porirua to do her best to pro­mote the sport.

She said as a young player she had to travel to Welling­ton, where there were bet­ter fa­cil­i­ties, and wanted to pre­vent Porirua play­ers hav­ing to do that now.

‘‘An up­grade of the hockey turf [at Els­don Park] would al­low games to be hosted in Porirua. It would also at­tract new play­ers.’’

The Toa club cur­rently has three women’s teams and four ju­nior teams.

Bishop said it was time to grow both in­ter­est in the sport and mem­bers of the club.

Bud­ding hockey play­ers didn’t need to be­long to the iwi to join Toa, she said.

‘‘We have girls from the pa, girls from other iwi and pakeha girls.

Most of our play­ers at­tend lo­cal col­leges, but we al­ways need more.’’

The premier com­pe­ti­tion started two weeks ago and Toa be­gan the sea­son well with a win and a draw.

PHOTO: BEN STRANG

Lisa Bishop, right, play­ing for Toa against Kapiti.

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