Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Goulburn Valley hockey players to be Knights

Following a restructure of zones by Hockey Victoria, Goulburn Valley players will know play for North East Country Knights instead of North West Country Lightning.

MATTHEW GALEA March 21, 2014 4:05am

Goulburn Valley Hockey Association’s best and brightest will turn out for North East Country Knights this year instead of North West Country Lightning.

The move comes as part of a Hockey Victoria restructure, where GVHA returns to the zone it was originally placed in when the zones were first drawn up in 2009.

Hockey Victoria chief executive Andrew Skillern said the changes brought the association back in line with its original placing, as well as evened out the number of playing members in the two zones.

‘‘The main philosophy around the zoning in 2009 was about the number of members in those areas,’’ Skillern said.

‘‘We were looking for between 1600 and 1700 in each of the 10 zones ... but after another review last year, we found the numbers weren’t quite stacking up.

‘‘The Lightning zone had more participants than anyone else. GVHA and Hockey Albury Wodonga are neighbouring associations, so that’s why (GVHA) has been moved to the north-east country zone.’’

Skillern said the move also made geographic sense, ensuring GVHA players would no longer need to make the long trip to Mildura, which for Shepparton players was more than five hours.

Teams are selected from all 10 of Hockey Victoria’s zones in the under-13, 15 and 17 age groups and compete at Junior State Championships in July and the Zone Challenge in November.

The Knights teams of the past have been dominated by Hockey Albury Wodonga players, but Skillern said measures were in place to ensure fair representation from both associations, while training and zone development days would also be shared.

‘‘Under the Knights’ structure, training will be shared between Shepparton and Albury Wodonga ... and Shepparton will host trials and a zone development weekend in April,’’ Skillern said.

‘‘We’ll be picking larger squads to ensure that six players from each association are selected.’’

GVHA president Pauline Doonan said the overall feeling from within the association was a positive one.

‘‘There’s never going to be a right time to change for everyone, but I think long term the benefits will outweigh any negatives, so it’s a good change,’’ Doonan said.

‘‘It’s a positive move in regards to the size of our zone, because having people travelling to Mildura was a safety concern as much as anything for us.

‘‘Hockey Victoria have put a lot of things in place to minimise any teething problems, and it will be very transparent.’’

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