Tauranga hockey player Jackie Heetkamp feels as though she has been given a second chance.
Heetkamp is one of 31 players from Tauranga and Tauranga-Bay of Plenty combined teams who have been named to represent New Zealand at the Trans-Tasman Masters Hockey Challenge held on the Gold Coast, from April 30.
The challenge is contested every two years and was first held in 2000.
For Heetkamp, who will play in the women's 45 team, it is a second chance at national representation after missing out last year. She was in the New Zealand team for the 2018 Masters World Cup in Spain, but a ruptured hamstring at the final training camp scuppered her trip.
"This time last year I was in bed after surgery, I was out for six months," Heetkamp says.
"You always want to get in, I just wanted to be fit because you enjoy it more. Playing in the challenge, you don't want to let your team down and you want to make a difference to your team."
Kaye Barnett, who did play for New Zealand in Spain last year, will play in the women's 40 team and is excited about playing the Australians.
"You always want to beat them. I played against Australia as an under-18 rep, but we did not play them in Spain," Barnett says.
"It is quite a new team and we don't have a camp before the challenge. We don't meet as a group until get to Australia and the big challenge will be to gel as quick as we can. It is about having an open attitude to get to know people."
The local hockey players were selected after top results by Tauranga and Tauranga-Bay of Plenty combined teams at the recent New Zealand Masters Hockey Tournament, which was the largest in the event's history with 81 teams competing. A team of 28 selectors observed and assessed and more than 500 players expressed interest in playing for their national team. Western Bay coaches and managers have also been selected.
Barnett says masters hockey is well run in Tauranga and enjoyment is a big factor.
"The age groups are small so that helps bring people to it. You don't have to commit to a whole season. We all come together quickly and we also want our mates in the other division to do well.
"We muster every Sunday and that gives players the enjoyment of what masters is about. Then they might think about taking a week off work to play."
The teams will compete for an overall trophy, based on the country that earns the most victories.
Tauranga and Tauranga/BOP players selected to represent New Zealand at the Trans-Tasman Masters:
Women's 35 Team: Natasha Leong; Rose Prisk; Nikki Harnett (Non-travelling reserve).
Women's 40 Team: Aroha Thompson; Kaye Barnett; Nikki Furmage (coach).
Women's 45 Team: Jackie Heetkamp.
Women's 50 Team: Juliet Dunlop-Fraser; Robyn Harrison; Deborah Masters; Petrina Martelli (manager).
Women's 55 Team: Jocelyn Sawyer; Sandra Kindley; Sue Furmage; Lynda Randrup (Non-travelling reserve).
Women's 60 Team: Brenda Poole; Elizabeth Saunders; Jenny Harington; Lynne Parsons
Sue Dewes; Jenny Travis; Gill Gemming (coach).
Women's 65 Team: Barb Northey; Jillian Tran Van; Judy Board; Susan McHaffie-Green.
Men's 40 Team: Lance Workman.
Men's 45 Team: Dave Gilbert (Non-travelling reserve).
Men's 55 Team: Dean Bowden; Geoff Williamson; Kevin Avery.
Men's 60 Team: Gene Coates-Reid (Player coach); Jeff Garnett.
Men's 65 Team: Mahendra Singh; Barry Prestney (manager).