Dalefield women’s team celebrating winning the Wellington Premier 1 title in 2017 but they may not be able to put up a side this season. PHOTO/FILE

Exodus of players leaves Dalefield women in dire straights

HOCKEY

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

Champion women’s hockey team, Dalefield, have been hit by an exodus of players and may have to pull out of the Wellington Premier 1 competition if they cannot fill their roster for the upcoming season.

The team won the competition in 2016 and 2017 and came fourth last year but the loss of 10 players, to university studies, travel, and work commitments, is threatening their ability to compete.

Coach Michael O’Connor said on Monday that they would have to pull the plug on their 2019 season unless they found some new, skilled players.

“Currently we have around 12 players, but we need a few more – a minimum of 16 but I like to have around 20 on the team in case someone can’t make the weekend or got injured,” O’Connor said.

“It’s been a good three years so far, and we know the talent is out there – but obviously if we can’t make the numbers, we won’t be able to play.”

Katherine van Woerkom [right] in action for Dalefield against Victoria University last year. PHOTO/FILE.

Committed to the team are National Hockey League players Katherine van Woerkom and Michael O’Connor [both Capital] along with Capital Under-18 player, Amy Rossiter-Stead, and Capital Under-21 representative,
Brigette Mossman.

Wairarapa Under-18 representatives Abby Crawley, Lauren Mahoney, Rosie Rooderkirk and Jaylin Dawson are also on the roster.

O’Connor said the region had good hockey talent for its size and expected that enough players would be able to be found – it was just a matter of letting people know their situation.

“There are a few younger ones out there who could fit into the team, as well as some older women who have played for a while but have always wanted to take that next step.

“At the same time, we don’t want anyone who’s signing up just to ‘help out’. We want them to be committed to the team, attend our trainings and be there for every game.”

Team manager Karen O’Connor said that losing the team would be a tragedy not just for current players but also for the next generation of Wairarapa hockey stars.

“If we forfeit this year’s Premier 1 grade any team that wanted to compete in future would have to start from the Premier 3 grade, which would be a big step down. It might not be worth travelling all that way to Wellington for that.

“This is a group of very talented players and it would be such a shame to lose their proficiency when they are in the prime of their hockey lives. Some of them will give hockey away all together.”

The Premier 1 competition starts in April, but the side have begun pre-season training.

Interested players can contact Michael O’Connor on 027 506 881 or Karen O’Connor on 027 298 9009.