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Excitement builds to Hockey Central Victoria season opening

Girton's Grace Jemmett and Emily Anderson are looking forward to the start of the Hockey Central Victoria season this Sunday. The young pair are standing on the pitch, which is currently being redeveloped to international standard. Picture: KIERAN ILES

A SEASON of excitement for Hockey Central Victoria (HCV) will launch into action on Sunday.

Much of the hype surrounds the on-going $6.2 million redevelopment of the league’s Ashley Street complex in Bendigo.

Stage one of the redevelopment of an upgraded pitch is edging closer to completion and expected to be finished late next month.

That will pave the way for the start of stage two, which includes the construction of a new pavilion and upgrade of the existing pavilion.

HCV president David Salter said the redevelopment had been the source of much enthusiasm around the league heading into Sunday’s round on.

“It’s great to be back into it – hopefully we have a good season and once we get the new pitch online it will be fantastic,” he said.

“We are still waiting for an update from the builders, but we are hoping it will be up and running by the end of May.

“It’s another water-based pitch, international standard. As far as I am aware that would make us the only regional centre of this standard (with two water-based pitches) in Australia.

“The State Hockey Centre has two water-based pitches, Sydney has two, but Bendigo is the only one regionally that I can think of with two.”

As far as I am aware that would make us the only regional centre of this standard (with two water-based pitches) in Australia.

David Salter

The league will again feature A and B-grade men’s and women’s competitions, under-17 mixed, under-15 mixed, under-13 mixed, under-11 girls and mixed and under-9 mixed and boys.

Sandhurst will start the season as reigning men’s A-grade premiers following a thrilling extra time victory over Loddon Murray last September.

Loddon Murray will this season field a combined side with Eaglehawk, giving the Hawks a presence in A-grade for the first time in a few years.

It will be a grand final replay of sorts in round one with Sandhurst to meet Eaglehawk/Loddon Murray at 4pm.

Bendigo opens the seasons against Strathdale at 11.30am.

In women’s A-grade, Strathdale will look to defend its premiership following a penalty shoot-out win over Eaglehawk in last season’s grand final.

The Tigers start their season against Bendigo at 1pm, while Sandhurst and Eaglehawk/Loddon Murray meet later in the day at 5.30pm.

With seven months having passed since grand finals were played, Salter said players across all grades were itching to get back into action.

“Everyone’s extremely excited about the redevelopment, so hopefully it’s all onwards and upwards,” he said.

Salter said HCV was hopeful of again attracting international hockey to Bendigo later this year.

The city has hosted both the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos in international games against India, New Zealand and the United States in the last two years as part of the International Festival of Hockey.

“International commitments have changed, but we’re hopeful it still goes ahead,” Salter said.

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