The inaugural NZ Beach Hockey Championships concluded on Sunday at The Mount Main Beach to rave reviews and plenty of happy participants and spectators.
Two days of intense battles amongst the participating teams saw Tauranga-based players in the Blue Steel team take on Fandy Suckers in the final. The game went right down to a nerve-racking penalty shootout which came down to sudden death shots. In the end it was the Fandy Suckers that came back from an early deficit to secure a well-deserved victory 6-3 and take home the very first Giant Jandal as national champions.
Throughout the weekend, the public had the opportunity to give beach hockey a go and than more 40 people aged between five and 55, with the guidance of Olympic hockey stars Sam Charlton and Hugo Inglis, showed that everyone can play this new and exciting variant of field hockey. The public took on the Black Sticks and other players in a series of three-on-three games played on the sand, between the spectacular, blow-up field lines and goals.
Organiser Jason Niles from NZ Beach Hockey, who saw the game played in Germany and decided he would be the first to bring it to New Zealand, was pleased with how well the spectacle went down with the big crowds watching at the beach.
"A huge thanks to all competing teams, whose skill and energy captivated crowds throughout the weekend," he said. "Also shout outs must go to all those who contributed time and skill to make sure that the event ran smoothly. Thanks also to the key sponsors - Just Hockey/Cricket Express and Mac's BrewBar Astrolabe - who kept our winners very happy with generous prizes.
"In the words of winning captain Chris Goldsbury, beach hockey was the winner on the day!"