Hundreds of young hockey players picked up their sticks and put on their shin pads to wrap up the school holidays by racing around the turf yesterday.

The Big Save Youth Hockey Festival kicked off on Thursday with primary schools from inside and outside the region competing for the golden prizes.

Despite other parts of the country being graced with heavy rain and strong winds the Hawke's Bay weather gods put on some good playing conditions for the aspiring Black Sticks.

Hawke's Bay Hockey community manager Andi Cullen said there were 23 teams in total with some children coming from Levin, Taupo, Horowhenua, Ohau and Gisborne to compete.


For the first time a Mini Sticks competition was added to the tournament drawing year three and fours to Park Island in Napier.

Hawke's Bay Hockey administration manager Michelle Francis said the Mini Sticks entries reached full capacity with seven teams registering for the two-day tournament.

"The introduction of the two-day Mini Sticks tournament has been welcomed. There is an abundance of smiles and kids out there giving it their all."

The Taradale Tigers were crowned the champions yesterday with Arthur Miller second and Rainbow Streak third.

The Kiwi Sticks grade also drew large numbers with 16 teams entering the Year 5 and 6 tournament, which finishes today.

The Freak Sticks are one of the 16 teams entered and are competing for the third year in a row.

Hayley Browne mother of Freak Stick player Kennedy Browne said it was a great thing for the community to have as it got children out and about having fun in a sport while meeting others from a variety of schools and clubs.

"I think the main thing is they have fun as otherwise they lose interest. This tournament provides a fun environment and we enjoy supporting our kids."

"It is great Hawke's Bay Hockey have put this on and it's cool teams have come from outside the region."

The tournament was facilitated by 30 hockey players who were all under 18 and a part of the Hawke's Bay Hockey Association.

They covered the roles of umpires manager, umpires, tournament controllers and match officials.