Major sports coup - Black Sticks hockey coming to Waimakariri!

Fresh from the opening of the new all-weather hockey facility in Coldstream Road, the Waimakariri District has landed another major sporting coup with news that the national women’s hockey side will play two matches in Rangiora next month.

Blue water based hockey turfThe Black Sticks, who finished fourth at last year’s Olympic Games in Brazil, will meet the United States in back-to-back tests over consecutive days as the final step in their build up to an international tournament in the North Island.

Their appearance in the district, which follows on from this month’s hosting of the national men’s one day cricket final at Mainpower Oval, adds to the Waimakariri’s growing reputation as a host of significant national sporting events.

New Zealand Hockey reached agreement with council to host the tests in Rangiora as part of its commitment to spread the game throughout the country.

Councillor Robbie Brine, who holds the Greenspace portfolio (which includes sports grounds), hailed the decision as a recognition from both the national and Canterbury hockey bodies of the commitment the district had made to developing the game by investing in the new all-weather facility.

“It was a major investment by council, but the selection to host events like this is a reward for that decision,” Cr Brine said.

“Hockey has a strong player base within the Waimakariri but we were badly in need of an appropriate facility to allow the game to continue to grow in the district.

“The large turnout at the facility when it opened last weekend, and the news that we will shortly be hosting international matches are immediate benefits for the district. Hopefully there will be plenty more.”

 Cr Brine says he expects the Black Sticks to receive strong support from locals in the twin tests, which will be played over the weekend of 25 and 26 March from 3pm.

“It was a pity the weather impacted on the crowd numbers for last weekend’s cricket final but the fact that two of the best women’s hockey teams in the world are playing in the Waimakariri will undoubtedly bring the people out.

“It’s a great opportunity to see elite athletes in action.”

The two teams didn’t play each other at Rio, where the Black Sticks narrowly missed out on a medal, losing to Germany in the Bronze medal match.

The United States finished fifth at that tournament, but third at last year’s Champion’s Trophy tournament in the United Kingdom, where they drew 1-1 with the sixth-placed Black Sticks.

The Black Sticks will be seeking a boost in their preparations for next month’s international tournament in the North Island, coming off a series loss in Argentina earlier this month.