Turf laying, marathon marshalling and after school jobs are just some of the ways members of the Westlake Boys’ High School First XI hockey team fundraised for their recent European tour.
The epic nine-game trip has climaxed with Westlake visiting the Netherlands, Belgium and France in addition to assembling a strong squad for the 2017 domestic season.
Westlake split their teams into Under-18 and 16 groups and Netesh Sukha was the captain of the former team.
“The style of hockey was very different in Europe. The Dutch teams like to hold on to possession and build patiently rather than being assertive and going forward straight away like we do in New Zealand.” Sukha reveals.
Greater caution might have helped Westlake in the WFHC tournament featuring teams from South Africa, Holland, Australia and England.
“We only won one game, but had three draws and three losses, the biggest of which was only 1-3. The English team won the tournament, but we did beat the Aussies.” Sukha recalls.
In addition to the WFHC tourney Westlake played two Dutch teams in Rotterdam and beat Hellevoetsluis 3-2.
“We learned a lot about the style of hockey we want to play. The younger guys developed a lot and it was really competitive.” Sukha acclaims.
Sukha identifies Year 11 Sam Shotter in defence, goal keeper Callum Grassick and attacker Charl Ullrich as players to watch for Westlake this season.
Sukha himself plays in the midfield and is a North Harbour A Under-18 rep. He was a member of the Westlake team that won the Rankin Cup in 2015.
Sukha is weary of Rosmini College, Auckland Grammar School and St. Kentigern College, hinting they will have strong teams in 2017.
“There are a lot of good teams, but I am really excited about this group. The culture is great and the talent is deep.” Sukha enthuses.
Learning about the sacrifice of war and foreign cultures was another benefit of the tour.
On ANZAC day an early start in France was followed by a border crossing for a Dawn Service at Buttes new British Cemetary, Zonnebeke. A short bus ride to Ypres was then taken for a wreath laying service at Menin Gate before a final service at the New Zealand memorial in Messines.
“It was a huge experience for us to see just how big the war was and understand the horrible suffering that happened. Seeing European hockey in front of huge, loud crowds was the opposite experience. It’s given all the boys something to aspire to.” Sukha concludes.
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