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“I used to take my athletics pretty seriously, but hockey has taken over. It’s pretty much a year round sport now.” Malachi Buschl says.
The head prefect at King’s High School in Dunedin is a New Zealand Under-19 representative and 2017 is a busy year.
“I was named in the New Zealand squad to take on Pakistan in April. I am really looking forward to that series,” Buschl enthuses.
Buschl was first selected for New Zealand in late 2015 and in January 2016 toured Australia to compete in a quadrangular series.
“That was a lot of fun to experience hockey at a higher level than I had before. The results didn’t go as well as we wanted, but I learned a lot from that tour.” Buschl reflects.
The valuable lessons attained across the Tasman carried into King’s 2016 season. Buschl was a key ingredient in the schools’ most successful year ever. King’s was unbeaten in the local competition and finished seventh at the Rankin Cup. Buschl’s ability to distribute accurately, defend resolutely and led from centre mid field was vital.
“We had no real stars in our team last year, but everybody worked hard and bonded. We were a class above the local competition and perhaps needed harder challenges throughout the year to maintain our edge.” Buschl recalls.
King’s was unbeaten in their group games at the Rankin Cup. They beat Rathkeale College (6-0), Timaru BHS (6-2), St. Kentigern College 2-0 and held 2015 championships Westlake BHS to a 1-1 draw. In the quarter-final, King’s was toppled 2-0 by Rangitoto College.
“A top eight finish was good for us, but we would like to have made the top four. I guess there is a bit of a vendetta for us this year.” Buschl says.
Buschl believes King’s best performance in 2016 was the 6-0 demolition of Christchurch BHS in the playoff for seventh.
“We played a real high standard of hockey in that game. I don’t think were as strong as last year, but if we really apply ourselves I think we can improve quickly and surprise ourselves.” Buschl insists.
King’s have nine returning players, but many of the 2016 starters have departed. However a strong work ethic and the ability to surprise has been a regular theme in Buschl’s sporting life. He started playing hockey in Year 7 when he filled in for his sister’s team. He discovered an instant enjoyment for the sport and quickly made rep sides which only further fuelled the fire. He says his greatest experience so far was finishing third with the Southern team at the 2016 National Under-21 tournament.
“The National Under-21 tournament was a really enjoyable experience. The team had a great culture with a great bunch of southern blokes. We were last the year before to so the results were a huge improvement for us.”
In addition to hockey Buschl is a keen geography student. He is a reserve for the New Zealand International Geography Olympiad team who will travel to Belgrade to compete in the International Geography Olympiad. Buschl wrote an outstanding essay about Serbia to become a contender for that trip.
It’s clear Buschl is a good southern lad going places.