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Talented team targeting top two

It’s been 11 years since Katherine Reisima last donned a Wairarapa representative strip, but the player-coach is relishing the prospect of representing her province in the Tier Two National Championship.

Reisima missed last year’s tournament in Dunedin, the first since NZ Hockey reverted to provincial teams rather than federation sides, having just given birth to her first child. Wairarapa finished fifth in the championship won by Southland.

A 16-strong squad based around the Wellington Premier Championship-winning Dalefield team will head to Hamilton for the week-long tournament, and Reisima can’t wait to get back into action.

“I love Wairarapa. I’ve tried Capital, and it didn’t really do a lot for me; there’s just not the camaraderie and not the friendships, and I’m really excited to put on the red and green again and go out and represent our region and show what we’ve got,” Reisima said.

“I’m not sure what to expect. I’ve been away from the rep scene for a few years now, but we can play good hockey, and it’s just nice to put yourself against other teams in New Zealand.”

Eight of the Wairarapa squad were in the successful Dalefield side, including Reese Roberston, Rosie Rooderkirk, Michael O’Connor, and Katie McAnulty, all of whom Reisima has played with over several years, and she believes that connection is a big advantage.

“You know where they want the ball, you know how they like to receive it and what they’re going to do, and you know what they can do at PCs [penalty corners] and in other aspects.”

Most of the rest of the squad have strong Wairarapa connections, too. Goalkeeper Annemieke van Vliet is better known for her exploits on the rugby field, having represented the Netherlands, but was a talented stopper in her days at Wairarapa College.

Kianna Dawson played for Dalefield before taking up a US university scholarship and has more recently been playing in Australia.

Emma Butterick, Teagan Mitchell, Mandy Yeo, Charlotte Jephson, and Decca Thomson also have strong local ties, while Narissa Diack from Christchurch is the team’s only guest player.

Key absences are former Black Stick Felicity Reidy, with a hamstring injury, Emma McLeod [unable to get dispensation], Emma Smith and Charlize Baron, both through work or study, and Amy Bunny, who is playing for Wellington in the Tier One Championship.

Wairarapa have drawn Taranaki, Southland, Tasman, and Waikato Wildcats [that province’s second team] in the five-team pool. The top two will progress to the semifinals, and the others will play for pride. Reisima admits she
knows little about the opposition.

“ I looked through the teams the other day [and I’m showing my age here], but I don’t recognise a lot of the names,” she said.

“I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know their level, but I would be pretty disappointed if we didn’t make the top two in the pool, but in saying that, I don’t know who the other teams have.”

Reisima believes the key to success will be correctly managing the players’ time on the field so they cope with the demands of tournament play.

“We’re playing six games in seven days, and we’ll come out fresh for the first one, but are we able to sustain that?

“You’ve got to be confident with the players we’ve got. We won the Wellington premier grade, and we’ve got some very capable players. It’s easy to start the week off well, but how can I, as a coach, potentially change our tactics throughout the week to get us through and get us playing our best for all six games?

“We’re there to do our best, and that’s all that you can do, and with the girls we have, we’re capable of playing good hockey, that’s what I focus on, and if we lose playing good hockey, it is what it is.”

Wairarapa start their campaign at 1pm Sunday against Taranaki.

Dalefield also have a strong presence in the Wellington men’s team for their tier-one tournament, also being played in Hamilton.

Black Stick centurion Dane Lett captains the men’s team, which also features clubmates Graeme Murrell, Rowan Yeo, Jayan Parbhu, Alex Sumenko-Bucknell, and Benedict van Woerkom.

Wairarapa women’s team:
Annemieke van Vliet [GK], Reese Robertson [capt], Alana Low, Emma Butterick, Tegan Mitchell, Michael O’Connor, Rosie Rooderkirk, Katie McAnulty, Pippa Raleigh, Maddie Taylor, Mandy Yeo, Charlotte Jephson, Katherine Reisima [player-coach], Kianna Dawson, Becca Thomson, Narissa Diack.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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