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Opening Of International Grade Water Turf

Opening Of International Grade Water Turf

An official opening celebration is planned for Napier's new international grade water turf on 20th July from 6:00 pm. The new water turf, which is the International Hockey Federation (FIH) standard, is the second TigerTurf water surface for Hawke's Bay.

Hawke's Bay Hockey CEO, Jude Rawcliffe explains the water turf opening celebrations mark an important milestone in a comprehensive hockey development plan. She says the new TigerTurf surface is a key component of a long-term strategy to develop the sport of hockey and its players in the Hawke's Bay area, including establishment of the Kelt Capital Hockey Academy, of which Rawcliffe is also CEO.

"What we've established here in a very rapid amount of time is an Academy which is targeted at ensuring that this region has the best facility in terms of the turf and the infrastructure, as well as the best opportunities and coaching support for players of all ages and abilities. This is not just about running an academy for the top end. The goal is that every person who is interested in picking up a hockey stick has access to a programme that's at the right level for them, along with facilities that rival anything else in the country. The sky's the limit for what we can achieve."

Rawcliffe says the Academy aims to be the best of its kind in hockey. It will serve as a template for other areas and other sports. In addition, the facilities are intended to generate new income flows that will be put back in to the game and the players.

The Academy boasts top, full-time coaching talent, including Shane McLeod, current Assistant Coach for the Men's Black Sticks and Caryn Paewai, recently retired Black Stick with 100+ caps. In addition, Rawcliffe herself, who has coached teams at every level, including assistant to the Black Sticks, will take on some coaching duties.

Says current Men's Black Sticks Coach, Kevin Towns, "Hawke's Bay's new hockey academy will be internationally hard to beat. No other country in the world including Australia or Holland have anything that approximates the quality and range of programmes at provincial level that this academy offers New Zealand's young players."

Adds Rawcliffe, "The key thing is to enable each person whether they're a rep player or someone who just has a love for the game to have experiences that will optimise their achievement in and enjoyment of the game that's for our Hawke's Bay players and also players from throughout New Zealand."

As for the TigerTurf surface itself Rawcliffe says, "We were anticipating an initial two to three week settling-in period where the TigerTurf water surface would be a bit greasy on top, but it has run really smoothly from day one. Ball speed is excellent and it is a player-friendly surface, in the sense that it absorbs a lot of impact. Overall, we are pretty wrapt with it."

TigerTurf Operations Manager Don Crocket says it is typical for players to notice and appreciate these types of benefits of playing on a water surface.

"The biggest difference players will notice about the water surface is the playing characteristics, better ball control and traction, and the surface is non abrasive and more forgiving on the body. Generally, it's a better game on the water turf."

In addition to the new water surface, the Kelt Capital Stadium has received other upgrades including building improvements, video analysis equipment and installation of a watering system for the new surface. Two new electronic scoreboards will go in before the middle of August, in time for the Federation Cup, and a grandstand will be installed beside the new TigerTurf water surface over summer 2006-2007.

All of this development, says Rawcliffe, has required a mammoth fundraising effort.

"Over the last 6 months we've raised just over 700,000 in Capital funding. That has come through a number of sources with major contributors being the Napier City Council, Hastings District Council, Hawkes Bay Regional Council, Eastern and Central Trust Heretaunga Community Trust, and the Century Foundation. We have also set up operational for the next three years based around funding partnerships with key sponsors. Kelt Capital has naming rights for the stadium and academy, Cape Physio has naming rights for the new TigerTurf water surface and Blue Water Hotel has naming rights for existing turf. We have also sold upwards of 40 lower tier sponsors who have billboard rights within the stadium."

Over the school holidays, the Kelt Capital Hockey Academy is running three camps, one for ages 7 to 12 of all abilities, and another for secondary students of all ability levels. Beginning this Friday, 7 July, the Academy will run an under 13 future elite camp, which will be attended by approximately 40 rep players from throughout the North Island, living in for three days of full emersion high performance coaching.

"The camps will be highlighted by guest coaches including current Black Sticks, Shea McAleese, James Nation and Kayla Sharland," says Rawcliffe.

Rawcliffe says the upcoming turf opening celebration will also provide an opportunity to acknowledge the early success of the newly launched Academy.

"We're inviting sponsors and people involved in the project to join in the celebration. There will be a presentation to showcase the facility upgrade and the player development opportunities that have already taken place in the first 6 months of operations."


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