International hockey fever is heating up in Central Otago.
Cromwell will host the much-anticipated nine-day international women’s series involving New Zealand, Australia and Japan from Saturday – the first tournament of its kind for the town.
The general reaction from people was one of surprise, as the community started to realise the tournament would feature New Zealand’s Black Sticks, Central Otago Sports Turf Trust member and head of team liaison Viv Buchanan said.
“I think for those that aren’t in the immediate hockey community, people are absolutely amazed they are coming to Cromwell. It’s going to be great,” she said.
“I can’t wait to talk to the players themselves and get their reaction when they were told they were coming to Cromwell.”
Central Otago Sports Turf Trust chairman Mike Pardekooper said the tournament had already been a massive boost for the district for more than a week, as the teams started arriving and practising on the Cromwell turf.
About 1200 tickets were available per game and tickets to some matches were still available, he said.
Spectators would be able to watch the games from two small grandstands being set up for the occasion, and the “mounds” around the turf also formed a “kind of natural grandstand”.
“The whole town and Central Otago hockey is just buzzing about having the international teams here. It’s going to be a huge boost, not just for Central Otago economically, but for hockey. We’re expecting some new players to join hockey after this, from young people that see they can actually play hockey in Central Otago and then play for New Zealand. It’s all looking very promising.”
A new event had recently been added to the tournament programme at which the community would have a chance to celebrate the Black Sticks’ gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, he said.
The celebration, taking place at the Cromwell Sports Club on Sunday at 5.30pm, would be attended by the team and coaches.