How do two girls from a town without snow or ice make it to an international ice hockey tournament?
That's a question Horowhenua Inline Hockey president Arden Phillips has asked himself after protégées Sam Heyward and Amber Metcalfe made the New Zealand under-18 women's Ice Hockey team to compete in Mexico early next year.
Phillips said he could only put it down to raw talent and a willingness to train hard. Both girls oozed talent playing inline hockey, and were able to transfer that ability to ice.
He said while the two sports were very similar, there were nuances in adapting to ice hockey that required hard work, especially when there was no ice rink near their home town of Levin for miles.
The nearest rink was in Petone, Wellington. The girls were travelling multiple times each week on the busy highway to train and play, clocking up plenty of kilometres in a hectic schedule.
Phillips said naturally players from city centres with ice rinks like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch normally made the bulk of the national sides.
To have two players from a town the size of Levin in the team was a real coup.
Heyward, 16, and Metcalfe, 15, were looking forward to the Mexico trip and were brushing up on their Spanish in hope it would help them on their adventure.
"Hola?" they were asked.
"Buenos dias," they said.
The pair join the rest of the New Zealand squad in camp in Auckland in January before flying out to Mexico for two weeks after that.
New Zealand would compete in the second-tier competition in Mexico against teams outside the traditional powerhouse nations of ice hockey that played professionally.
Metcalfe was no stranger to travel and last year attended an inline hockey championship in Abu Dhabi, where she was New Zealand's top goal scorer.