Long road but loving it

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Mad-keen hockey players have to drive 4000km a year.

Queenstown’s die­­­hard hockey players have to be the most dedicated sports people in the resort.

They clock up thousands of kilometres a year pursuing their favourite game – but it doesn’t bother them a bit.
No less than 78 hockey buffs travel about 120km up to three times a week just to compete and train in Cromwell – the nearest place with a full-sized hockey pitch.

Bradley Boyd, 16, who plays for the Queenstown Blue Senior B and the Queenstown Men’s teams, racks up 120 hours of game and travel time each season.

“I want to play the game because it’s enjoyable and I don’t even think about the travel,” Bradley says.

Kim Boyd, mother of Brad­ley and his two hockey-playing brothers Logan, 13, and Aiden, 8 (whose team she also coaches), says her family is hockey-mad.

“We don’t even think about the costs. If there’s a game we jump in the car and just go for it.”

Wakatipu players have a quarter-sized training pitch at Lake Hayes Estate but actual matches are played in Cromwell – rep teams train there, too.

It means families such as the Boyds can be averaging up to 360km on the road each week – that’s around 4000km a season.

“I never hear people complaining,” Kim Boyd says.

“A lot don’t even car pool be­­­cause all they want to do is see their kids play.”

She also insists the sport is getting more popular in Queenstown, with a notice­able increase in participants each year.

Eight-year-old Aiden says he wants to be a Black Stick one day so all the travel time is worth it. “I’d be playing PlayStation or some­­­thing if I wasn’t playing hockey.”

Local players will scatter even further afield this weekend with the start of week-long national tournaments around the country on Monday. Eight members of the Queenstown Blue Senior B team are in action.

Kate Gilbert heads to Auckland with the Otago under-16 reps for the national premier U16 tournie.

Gilbert, 15, is driven to Dunedin twice a week by her mum to attend Otago rep practices and matches.

Locals in the Central Otago team at the U16 boys tour­nament in Timaru next week are Max Macharg, Willem
van der Kaag, Michael Bennett, Bradley Boyd, Logan Boyd, Jonty Norton and Jack Gilbert.

Natalya van den Boom, Jor­­don Howell, Shelby Tuinman-Bell and Kate Bradford travel to Christ­church with the Central Otago U16 girls development squad for a tournie.