Hockey: New turfs make park major player

By Peter White

A new and exciting future for hockey is under way with the announcement that the tender process has been completed for two new turfs at the Tauranga Hockey Centre at Blake Park.

Construction will start in a fortnight and should be completed by the start of the new season next March.

Newly appointed Tauranga Hockey Association general manager Clyde du Toit says it has taken 18 months of non-stop work to raise the $1.26 million needed for the project and has been driven by the Western Bay community.

"We have had fantastic community support from so many people," said du Toit.

"TECT gave us $800,000, Tauranga City Council $200,000, NZ Charitable Trust $100,000, Lion Foundation $75,000, Pub Charity $50,000, Western Bay District Council $50,000, and the hockey association has raised $96,000 from members and fundraising.

"Jo Tisch, who is one of our board members, has driven that and she has done a fantastic job.

"Since then, we have gone through an engineering tendering process and we had to make sure we stuck within the International Hockey Federation guidelines for international turfs, and we went through quite a long technical process of reviewing the tenders.

"We also sought external impact from a Black Sticks player [Tauranga's Andy Hayward] who gave his thoughts and we also got input from Hockey New Zealand with regard to our choices."

The tender has been awarded to Auckland company Tiger Turf, which will construct a water turf where the 20-year-old sand turf lies now, and replace the top carpet surface of the 10-year-old water turf beside it.

Du Toit says the question most people ask is what colour the new turfs will be.

"We are going with the same blue colour as was used at the Olympics this year and then a brick colour around the outside of the fields. That will be great because Tauranga's colours are blue and orange.

"That is just another innovative approach to creating excitement around the game."

Hopes are high that the magnificent new facility will attract major national tournaments and both the Black Sticks men's and women's teams.

Next year's national programme is already planned, so apart from the secondary schools Mayhill Cup in September followed by the AIMS Games, the venue will have to wait to 2014.

Hayward is excited for the development of hockey in the city he grew up in.

The Black Sticks star says it will have an invaluable impact on the sport and the region.

"It is just awesome to have two new turfs side-by-side, especially for the local players who only had one water turf to play on before.

"It means players can train more and have more game time on top-quality surfaces which will not only improve their game, but attract more people into the game.

"I see the venue as being fantastic in the build-up to the 2014 World Cup."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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