Parkes to take part in revamped Central West Masters Hockey League

MASTERS SET TO RETURN: Mandy Westcott has had a strong preseason and is ready for a big game this Sunday. Photo: Amy Soole.
MASTERS SET TO RETURN: Mandy Westcott has had a strong preseason and is ready for a big game this Sunday. Photo: Amy Soole.

The Western Masters League hockey competition commences this Sunday, March 7, with Parkes heading to Lithgow to take on Bathurst.

Lithgow will host all three matches with Parkes, Lithgow, Dubbo, Orange, Mudgee and Bathurst all entering teams in the 2021 competition.

Parkes stalwart Denise Gersbach was one of the driving forces of getting the Masters League off the ground in 2020 alongside Central West players Tracey Hardie-Jones and Tracey Baker.

The western region's best female hockey players banded together to create a new competition for the Master's category at the start of the 2020 and it was a raging success, with Dubbo beating Parkes to take out the Masters Challenge Cup last December.

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Gersbach is keen to get the season underway and is full of praise for the way Parkes has been preparing.

"The Parkes ladies have been training well for the past 6 weeks and are excited to take the pitch for Round 1," says Gersbach.

"Goalkeeper Amy Thornberry has been training extremely well in pre-season while Mandy Westcott has been working hard on her fitness in the off season and will need to step into the mid-field this weekend as Tracey Chambers, Teegan Rodgers and Louise Witherow are all unavailable to play the first round."

Parkes will take on the strong Bathurst side this Sunday and Gersbach knows Parkes will have to be at their very best to win.

"I watched the Bathurst team at a recent carnival in Canberra and they are a strong team who play a well structured game of hockey.

"We will need to maintain our structure, particularly in the midfield if we are to match them this weekend.

"We will need to make the most of our opportunities in the circle and get shots on goal or penalty corner outcomes," Gersbach says.

The league is a great way for the region's best Masters players to get in some preparations ahead of the NSW State Championships, particularly important given the cancellation of the 2020 tournament.

It will take place in Newcastle during July, and it will be the first time the men and women are both in the same place, making for a mega Masters of sorts.

In other hockey news, a number of local players have been named to represent NSW at junior levels; a sign of the huge strength of hockey here in Parkes.

Players are set to take to the field next month as they represent their town and state in either Bathurst or Launceston.

Parkes coach Glenn Johnstone is in charge of the under 18's Women's side, another nod to the strength of the Central West when it comes to field hockey.

Under 18's Women's

April 8 - 16 Launceston, Tasmania

Eloisa Purtell, Abi Simpson (Blues)

Coach: Glenn Johnstone

Under 18's Men's

April 8 - 16 Launceston, Tasmania

Koby Johnstone

Under 15's Boys

April 9 - 15, Bathurst

Toby Collins, Nathan Marshall, Flynn Thompson (Blues)

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