World travellers

Local hockey players Samantha Johns, Kade Wooldrage, Liam McLaren and Callum Poke are heading overseas this month as part of a package with sports tour group Wanderers Australia. Absent is Alexander Poke. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

Tour. Five local players will receive the international hockey experience of a lifetime when they leave Australian shores later this month.

Brothers Alexander and Callum Poke, Samantha Johns, Kade Wooldrage and Liam McLaren applied to travel with sports tour group Wanderers Australia on a ‘first come first in’ basis, with all confirmed a place in their respective age groups.

Liam and Callum will be part of a 15-man U/18 boys squad departing the country on April 1, travelling across Canada and the USA to play a host of club and representative teams in just under three weeks.

“We had to get in pretty quickly really,” Callum said of the upcoming tour. “Xander did it a couple of years ago . . . so I decided to do it after that.

“Seven games in two-and-a-half weeks – that’ll be a pretty good pre-season. We get to play on sand-based [pitches] over there, so that’ll be different.”

Joined by an Australian girls squad of the same age, the squad first faces off against local Vancouver teams before travelling to the States where they play ‘some of the best teams in America’, including many of the US Junior National Boys side.

The tour also gives players a mix of leisure time to experience the likes of Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles or the ski slopes in Canada, with both Circular Head boys eager to make the most of their first time overseas.

“I’m not looking forward to the 16-hour flight!” Liam laughed, before adding: “Just to experience different coaches [will be good] – they’re pretty high-class. Usually the teams we play against, we billet with as well.”

Awaiting the over-18 trio of Alexander, Samantha and Kade is a slightly longer trip covering New Zealand and South America, with matches against teams in Auckland and Buenos Aires scheduled alongside an optional holiday package to Brazil.

A number of Circular Head players have already experienced a Wanderers tour in the past and passed on their feedback to the soon-to-travel group, including current Smithton Hockey Club president Nick Stokes.

“Nick’s just said it’s great over there,” Kade said. “I’ve been to the South Pacific islands, but it’s mainly South America that enticed me the most.”

To follow the progress of the teams, head online to wanderersaustralia.com.au and click on the Featured Tour Blogs link.

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