The beauty of masters sports tournaments is they attract a wide range of athletes with varied abilities.

This week's New Zealand Masters Hockey Tournament, being held in Rotorua and Hamilton, is no different. The players in the 81 teams entered range from the average Saturday club player to former international representatives and everyone in between.

The tournament started on Sunday and finals will be played on Saturday. It includes age groups from 35s through to 65+ for men and women.

Playing for Central in the 35 women's tournament is New Zealand's longest serving Black Stick Robbie Matthews, who represented her country between 1985-2000 and was the first women to reach 150 test caps.

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She said hockey was "a sport for life".

"It's just being able to get out there and play the game - if you love the game you enjoy getting out there and getting together with some of your old mates and trying to play some of the hockey you used to play.

"People still know how to pass the ball, it's just when the ball's slightly ahead of you, your mind wants to do what you used to do but your body can't quite do it the same. It's still very competitive."

The 54-year-old said she started playing hockey when she was 5 and "hasn't finished".

At present she is the Hockey Whanganui chief executive and enjoyed coming to the masters tournament and seeing the sport thriving.

"It's awesome, hockey is good for masters because the surface is friendly on your body and the ball runs true. A lot of people play the summer six-a-side because it's smaller and you don't have to do a lot of running.

"What I love about hockey is it's a men's and women's game, it's a family game. In Whanganui our slogan is that it's a game for life. You can start as a youngster and still be playing as you get older."

Assistant technical delegate for the tournament Kit Rutherford said it was the biggest hockey tournament in New Zealand.

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Bay of Plenty/Tauranga's Janell Walmsley (left) in action against Hawke's Bay. Photo / Stephen Parker
Bay of Plenty/Tauranga's Janell Walmsley (left) in action against Hawke's Bay. Photo / Stephen Parker

"We're very glad to have the local facility available, it's good to have two water turfs side-by-side like we have here in Rotorua. One of the issues with running this number of games is you need four turfs and there are very few places in the country who have four turfs immediately adjacent. That's why we're split between Hamilton and Rotorua."

Rutherford said the tournament was popular because hockey was a game you could play at any age.

"Even at 65, you can still walk out there. This is still pretty competitive, whereas rugby at the same age is golden oldie, there's no tackling. That's the attraction, it's still hockey even though the body is not what it was.

"What is nice is on one team you'll have two or three internationals, but then you've got some basic club players, yet they're playing together and enjoying it. It's not all about winning, it's about participating."

Games are being played in Rotorua for the rest of the week up to Saturday. The full draw can be found at hockeynz.co.nz