New Zealand national men's hockey team, the Black Sticks, brought home a silver medal from this year's Commonwealth Games and that should bring a bit of pride to Horowhenua because one of these men, 20-year-old Hayden Phillips, is from Levin.

Australia's Hockeyroos were too strong for the Kiwi men, beating them 2-0. The Black Sticks are ranked ninth in the world and fourth for the Commonwealth Games, behind Australia, India and England.

Though he has already spent a few years living in Auckland, where he studies at Massey University's Albany campus, his home base is still here.

The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games was Hayden's first, but the atmosphere wasn't entirely new to him as he had already been to an Olympic Games. Hayden started playing hockey at the age of 5 or 6, "because my mum was coaching my sister at hockey".


He played for Levin of course and then for Manawatu U15, when he was at Palmerston North Boys High. From there he progressed to Central and then their U21 squad and eventually the Junior Black Sticks.

"I like hockey because it requires a lot of skill and is very fast paced," Hayden said. "Also in hockey you need to be able to do everything, defend as well as attack. It is a well-rounded sport."

The current Black Sticks are a 25-strong squad, and get selected in December/January each year for the next 12 months.

"From these guys a team is selected for each tour," said Hayden, who has been a Black Stick for three years now and each week spends hours training with his fellow Black Sticks. That and his studies in business and accountancy keep him very busy.

There isn't time anymore for club hockey, though he still plays for Central.

The next big tournament for Hayden and the Black Sticks is the World Cup.

"The team for that will be picked later in the year."