Hockey: Sport mad siblings do parents proud

By Terry Maddaford

Hockey siblings (from left) Anjali Panchia and her brothers Jared and Daniel. Photo / Greg Bowker
Hockey siblings (from left) Anjali Panchia and her brothers Jared and Daniel. Photo / Greg Bowker

Hockey has left the Panchia family in hock. Literally. With three sons in different national squads and a daughter following her brothers into the sport, mum and dad must have the feeling they are working to keep their children in their chosen sport.

Not that they care mind you.

Oldest son Arun, 23, is in Melbourne with the Black Sticks for the start of the Champions Trophy. Jared, 19, is just back from Malaysia and his second trip to that part of the hockey-playing world, while Daniel, 18, in the national under-18 squad, is also preparing to head overseas.

Pete Panchia met his wife Ramila through hockey. She was playing at the Papatoetoe-based Southern club at which the Panchias have remained since with the brothers key members of the club's premier men's team. Nine-year-old sister Anjali is already into it as well.

At school the brothers made their mark. Arun was at Mt Albert Grammar and a member of the team that represented the school at a national tournament for the first time in years.

Jared had a hockey scholarship at Kings College while Daniel followed his older brother to MAGS when Arun has been assistant coach for their 1st XI for the past two years.

"Hockey in Auckland is definitely on the rise," said Pete Panchia. "With Jason Butcher now heading their programme the success of his work is there for all to see.

"Our boys have all been involved in the squads of 20 he has for players 18 years and older. He has the same for the women.

"It does mean extra training and early starts but the benefits are obvious." Hockey is obviously the topic of conversation in the Panchia house but it was not until Arun went to the World Cup in New Delhi in 2010 that his parents went to India for the first time despite being born in New Zealand to Indian parents.

"Daniel is going to India in the middle of the month for a Champions League-type tournament. Luckily, that is all expenses paid," said Pete. "Hockey is not a cheap sport. As well as sticks and shoes which work out at around $400-$500 each per year, club fees are very expensive.

"Then we have to meet the costs of representing Auckland in the National Hockey League which costs about $1000 each. Arun and Jared were in the winning team this year.

"The club is very understanding. They allow us to drip feed our fees and I have a similar arrangement with Auckland Hockey. But, having said that, we would not want the boys to ever stop playing."

Arun, who plays in midfield, had 12 weeks playing club hockey in Holland and has now played more than 80 times for the Black Sticks since his 2009 debut.

As well as playing at the 2010 World Cup he was a member of the bronze medal-winning team at the Commonwealth Games later that year in New Delhi but missed the cut for the London Olympics, instead spending his time "on the outside looking in" as one of two players attached to the team but housed outside the Games Village.

While there is a competitive edge to their sport, the brothers, and their parents, are friendly about it, preferring to dissect games in the car on the way home than allowing it to spill over as a conversation piece at dinner.

•The Black Sticks' opening Champions Trophy game is against Olympic champions Germany today.

The team are eyeing a top-five finish in Melbourne, which would guarantee inclusion in the next Champions Trophy likely to be in two years' time.

- NZ Herald

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