Ana-May Gudsell, left, in action for Dalefield in 2016. PHOTO/FILE

HOCKEY

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Playing in the masters division isn’t going to take the competitive spirit away from Wairarapa players at the 2018 Masters Hockey World Cup.

Three Wairarapa players – Ana-May Gudsell, Dave Murray and Andy Wilson – will all be heading to Spain later this month to contest the World Cup in their respective age groups.

Gudsell will play in the women’s 35+ team, and said she was still getting her head around the fact she was considered a ‘master’ after only becoming eligible for the grade last year.

“Last year was the first year I could play masters and I knew the World Masters was coming up this year,” she said.

“You had to play in one of three tournaments to be eligible for selection, and I played for Wellington in the National Masters in November last year.

“That was kind of where I got seen and we ended up winning it which was awesome.”

The tournament will take place in Terrassa, but all the teams will be staying 40 minutes down the road in Barcelona.

Gudsell’s team will take on Sri Lanka in their first match on July 28, with matches to follow against Ghana and Spain before a couple of rest days.

They will then take on Australia, the USA and England before the finals on August 5.

Gudsell said they were aiming to be as competitive as possible.

“Being New Zealanders, we’re pretty competitive.

“The ultimate goal would be to take it out but it’s anyone’s game when you get there.”

One of the main challenges facing New Zealand masters teams is the difficulty surrounding their ability to get together and train, and in hockey it is no different.

Gudsell – a striker or midfielder – said they had managed to organise a couple of training camps in Auckland in the past few months, but plenty of work would need to be done when they reach Spain.

“Because we’re from all over New Zealand, it’s quite hard to get together.

“We have about four days to adapt to the heat when we get over there, and we’ll have a few trainings to get used to the turf as well.”

Gudsell has organised two movie night fundraisers in preparation for the event, with one being held in Martinborough today [sold out], and another in Masterton next Friday.

Hockey New Zealand competitions manager Aidan O’Connor said they were excited about the capability of each squad.

“There have been some excellent players who unfortunately have not been selected which highlights the strength of each squad.

“We have full confidence in our top-quality coaches and managers to lead each programme at their respective World Cups in 2018.”