This year’s Upper Great Southern Hockey Association season delivered five months of thrilling games, goals and other events.
There were many highlights, but the Festival of Hockey, UGSHA Narrogin Junior Carnival, National Australia Bank carnival and the Sri Lanka masters team friendly stood out for association development man-ager Rodney Johnson.
The Festival of Hockey was held on July 6 and brought Hockey WA to Narrogin to do a level one coaching clinic, an umpires forum, top club program and talent development program.
UGSHA’s premier league games for men and women were also held at Curtin University, against the Vic Park Xavier hockey teams.
The ladies’ game ended in a draw, while Vic Park Panthers won the men’s game.
The annual UGSHA Narrogin Junior Carnival was held over two days, starting on July 20.
More than 50 teams entered from Esperance, Ravensthorpe, Avon, Lower Great Southern Hockey Association, Central Great Southern Hockey Association, Collie, Peel and other regions.
On the Saturday evening, the UGSHA President’s XI went up against the WA State Country team.
The game attracted a large crowd and was one of the highlights of the carnival.
This year, the UGSHA also introduced a new competition to the juniors — a J7 Lower School division.
This gave the young players from years 2-4 a chance to play real games with no results recorded.
The aim was to help the children develop their skills and game knowledge.
The NAB carnival in August was another key event in the season.
The Lower High School competition, played on August 16, involved four girls teams and six boys’ teams. This year, it was extended to include a senior primary school division for years 4-6, which was played on August 20.
The teams included local primary schools as well as Lake Grace District High School, Kojonup District high School, Katanning Senior High School, Narembeen District High School and Narrogin Senior High School.
Another highlight was the international friendly between the UGSHA Masters team and Sri Lanka Masters team, held last month.
The game was four quarters of exciting hockey with UGS winning 3-1.
It was a good opportunity for the local players to have a go at an international game, and both teams made many friendships.
The season wrapped up with the association’s presentation night on September 14, before the grand finals the following week.
About 170 players and guests attended the evening of awards, presentations and music, with the biggest award — UGSHA life membership — going to Peter Thompson, for many years of volunteering as vice-president and handyman.
The association also had 17 State Senior representative players this year, including Nicholas Corner, Shaun McKay, Liam Sweeney, Blake Warburton, Emily Ballantyne, Cara Borthwick, Brooke Duff, Jodie George, Angus Armstrong, Steven Sexton, Dwight Kellow, Alan Anthony, Mark Regan, Michael Lange, Evan Warburton, Scott Angwin, and Kim Hough.
Mr Johnson said the association enjoyed a great season and thanked everyone involved. “We had a very jam-packed season with something available to all varieties of players,” he said.
“With many volunteers who do so many little things throughout the season, the association runs very smoothly.”
Mr Johnson praised this year’s Flexitrans Green Shirt umpiring program and the Hi-tech Ag Coaching program for providing continual improvement in those areas.
“We’ve visited 20 local schools promoting hockey and are continuing to buck the trend and keep our numbers at a good level,” he said.
“There are days when you ask yourself ‘why do I put myself under so much pressure? But then you realise that at the end of the day, you are making many, many people enjoy their hockey and that’s a big win.”