Hockey Central Victoria hosts 2021 Junior State Championships
Courtesy Anthony Pinda and the Bendigo Advertiser
READY TO STRIKE: North West Lightning's Amali Fitzpatrick is eager to get to work on the hockey field at the 2021 Junior State Championships.
Teams from far and wide have arrived in Bendigo for the 2021 Junior State Championships.
Starting Thursday, junior girls will be in action at the Hockey Central Victoria complex in Ironbark, while junior boys will head across to Shepparton.
North West Lightning under-13 player Amali Fitzpatrick couldn't be more excited to get to action in the first game against Eastern Hotshots.
"I am really looking forward to playing some matches, getting to know the girls and having some fun," Fitzpatrick said.
Hockey Victoria operations manager Ben Seccull said it was a massive relief to hold the competition.
"It was such a shame for the kids to miss out on the JSC last year, but thankfully we're back stronger than ever for 2021," Seccull said.
The annual JSC provides junior players with the opportunity to compete against other like-minded juniors from across the state.
"The tournament brings together all the best kids from every corner of Victoria, whether it's Gippsland, Mildura, Warrnambool, Bendigo or metropolitan areas.
"It gives them great experience, particularly as a lot of them are away from home and will be playing multiple games per day.
"It's a great insight into playing at an elite level and sets them up for selection in our state teams and other pathways."
Seccull was also pleased that HCV was able to showcase it's state of the art facilities.
"This is one of the first major events to be held here at the world-class facility that's definitely one of the best in the state," he said.
NWL president and HCV representative Ross Evans has been hard at work in the lead-up to the tournament.
"This is fantastic for Bendigo to host the JSC as it brings people to the town to play on our great facilities and to engage with hockey in general," Evans said.
"A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to make it happen such as logistics and preparing the venue which has been undertaken by our fantastic volunteers."
Evans will also take on the role of coach for the NWL under-18 boys.
"It's going to be a very strong competition," he said.
"Most of the teams, particularly those from metropolitan areas, are very strong from under-13 all the way through to under-18.
"Our kids will be competing against players who have been state representatives so it will certainly be a challenge.
"But everyone is keen to do their best."
Tournament begins Thursday with finals scheduled to be held on Sunday.