Blistering hot temperatures and tough competition greeted two Whanganui players in New Zealand teams at theWolrd Masters and World Grand Masters Hockey tournaments in Spain last month.
Forty-eight-year-old Michelle (Mouse) Low and 59-year-old Russell Burgess have just returned from their respective tournaments after helping to post respectable results for New Zealand.
Burgess was the baby in his 60-65 men's age group side at the Wolrd Grand Masters near Barcelona, while Low was in the top range of her 45-49 women's team.
"I can play in the 60-year age group because I turn 60 this year," Burgess said.
"We finished eighth of 18 teams after winning three of our seven games. We did beat top sides Argentina and Belgium and we were the only side to score against eventual winners, the Netherlands. We manged two goals against them."
Burgess played all seven matches over the 10 days with temperatures the late 30 degrees Celcius, while on the turf soared to as high as 48 degrees.
"It was pretty tough going."
Low and her team played in Terrassa just outside Barcelona with similar temperatures prevailing.
"New Zealand had a really difficult pool with three of the tournament's top teams - us, the Netherlands, Australia, France and Ireland," Low said.
"I don't know why they put us in the same pool as Australia, we play them all the time. Anyway we finished fifth of 12 teams with a loss, a draw and five wins. The Neterlands won and we drew 1-all with them in pool play. They said we were the strongest side thay had played all week."
Both players have long histories with New Zealand age group teams.
Burgess has played for New Zealand masters sides for the past 10 years, while Low has worn the Silver Fern at masters level since she was 35.
Low turns 49 later this year, so will be eligible to step up to the 50-54 age group where she will be the baby, or remain the elder stateswoman in the 45-49 division.
"I've got to decide whether I go up or stay down. I have the nationals coming up in March followed by the Trans-Tasman series in May and the next worlds in 2020."
Low alos has to decide whether to keep going with the Wanganui Women who won the final of the Manawatu Women's Premier Reserve grade hockey championship just last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Burgess will play his last game in the Wanganui men's division two league this Friday evening and will assess his availability for masters teams at trans-Tasman and world level.
In the meantime. both will play at the 30th New Zealand Masters Games in Whanganui in February.
"It will be a good lead-in for me heading into the nationals in March," Low said.