How to Start Playing Field Hockey in New Zealand

Field hockey is incredibly popular in New Zealand and it is estimated that over eighty thousand people of all ages play hockey in the country. There are actually two variations that are available, summer and winter. The highly popular Small Sticks development program of 2017 was rolled out to an amazing seventy thousand school kids to kick start their interest in the sport. This was a highly successful sports education program and New Zealand hockey has seen an upturn in interest from kids of all ages wanting to take up the sport. It has always been said that to introduce a sport to a country it is important that you start at grass roots level, and this is exactly what has happened in New Zealand. So how do you get started playing hockey in New Zealand?

Small Sticks

After the initial success of the Small Sticks program it is still being carried on by many sporting clubs all over the country as a nationally branded enterprise. The program is split up into four different modules based on age.

  • Fun Sticks – for under six year olds, Year 1 & 2
  • Mini Sticks – under eight year olds, Year 3 & 4
  • Kiwi Sticks – under eleven year olds, Year 5 & 6
  • Kiwi Sticks – full field hockey

Small Sticks has now replaced junior hockey and the biggest difference is that it matches ability and age, so the kids stay interested and want to learn. The above four disciplines are now common all over the country, which has given conformity to youth hockey in New Zealand.

Masters Hockey

Of course hockey is not just restricted to the young, and there is a thriving adult scene as well. The Masters side of the game has expanded also with the hockey community growing substantially in the past five years. In March 2019, the National Master Tournament attracted no fewer than eighty one teams from all over New Zealand, which was a record and made the event the biggest domestic hockey tournament ever held in New Zealand.  

Masters Hockey
Masters Hockey

Finding a Club

To play hockey in New Zealand you really have to join a decent club that can offer the facilities and equipment. There you will find coaching classes and more importantly meet like-minded sportsmen and sportswomen to enjoy your hockey passion with.

Here are some of the best clubs in the different regions:

  • Upper North Island – Hockey Northland, Auckland Hockey, Midlands Hockey, Thames Valley Hockey.
  • Lower North Island – Hawke’s Bay Hockey Association, Wellington Hockey, Central Hawke’s Bay, Central Hockey.
  • Upper South Island – Marlborough Hockey, West Coast Hockey, Malvern Hockey, Buller Hockey, Canterbury Hockey.
  • Lower South Island – Southland Hockey, South Canterbury, North Otago Hockey, Invercargill Hockey, Eastern Southland Hockey Association, Central Otago.

There are many other decent clubs if none of these are near you, but before joining see if they are associated to the New Zealand Master’s program, and if you have kids ensure they offer the Small Sticks education course. This way you can be confident they are following national guidelines and offer the appropriate instruction. 

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