Toby Collins has recently had the experience of a life time playing the sport he loves for his country in Malaysia.
The Parkes local teenager co-captained the Australian Allstars Under 17s men's hockey team in Australia's first appearance in the Mirnawan Cup which is held in Malaysia.
"The coach pulled me aside after our first game and told me I will be co-captain for our team," Toby said.
"It was a big honour, I wasn't expecting it."
The 2023 Mirnawan Cup was held from November 18 to 26 in Kuala Lumpur.
"The Mirnawan Cup is named after the king of hockey in Malaysia, one of the best players to ever play for Malaysia so they named the cup after him."
This is the second year the Mirnawan cup has been held.
Each year Malaysia invites another country to compete for the cup, this year it was Australia who joined.
There were three countries who competed this year including India, South Africa, Australia and Malaysia which had two teams in the competition.
"Hopefully some European teams join in the years to come."
The competition ran over a period of nine days which consisted of four round games that saw Australia winning against South Africa who came second overall, and drawing with India who were the cup winners which was followed by two rest days before the games that really mattered took place.
"We only just missed out on the gold medal match by a goal or two, we were waiting for a result in the last game against South Africa and India so whichever team won that they went through and we went through but they had a draw so they both went through so that's the luck of the draw and is a bit unfortunate."
Australia progressed through to the bronze medal match.
"Unfortunately we didn't get the result we wanted and lost in a shootout right at the end."
"It was a great opportunity to play for Australia though and playing for my first time overseas, I was exposed to different playing conditions compared to playing in Australia.
"It was sticky, humid and hot, I was sweating sitting in the grandstand watching the other teams compete.
"It was good to see what other countries had to offer and how they play and how we could work against them as there was a number of different styles of hockey, there a lot stronger than what you think really."
"I've made a few new friends, we stayed in the same accommodation so we got to hang out with all the players from different countries so hopefully I will keep those friendships for years to come."
Travelling from the accommodation to the playing fields was made easy by police escorts for the Australian team.
"So we got on the bus and there's a police motorbike in front and behind us so it took us like 10 minutes to get to the fields and that was pretty cool."
"It was the first time Australia has actually been in the Mirnawan Cup so that was a big privilege to be in the first Australian team.
"Hockey Australia payed for a portion of the expenses so it's definitely the cheapest holiday I'll get over there for a while."
Toby is studying Sport and Exercise Science next year at the University of Newcastle.
"I wouldn't mind in the future working with a sporting team as a personal trainer or even working with the biomechanics side through the GPS trackers and athlete data would be pretty cool to do."
Toby was awarded the Vice Chancellors award for academic success at his recent High School graduation which gave him $2,000 to put towards his study and he will also be applying for elite athlete scholarships to continue his academic and sporting success.
"I will play hockey in Newcastle and in Sydney next year.
"The Newcastle competition is on a Sunday so it gives me the opportunity to play in Sydney on the Saturday and hopefully get into a few more teams and keep pursuing that career."
Toby has represented New South Wales over seven times playing all over Australia and has played a few competitions in Sydney.
The Parkes hockey community won't be losing Toby anytime soon though as he plans to still play for his home town for years to come.
"I'll definitely keep playing for Parkes, for state championships in the open teams, I wouldn't want to play for anyone else.
"Hopefully I have a bye one weekend next year and will be able to play Premier League with Parkes United as it's always fun playing with that team and the Parkes hockey community always supports you.
"I've played in Sydney and locally but its a lot different out here, I guess there a bit, I would say more tougher out in the country, bit more mongrel in them and put more heart into playing, you go to Sydney and they just play to play whereas out here we love the sport and want to win obviously."
Toby's hockey career isn't over just yet this year as he heads to Goulburn to play for Parkes in the under 18s Indoor Hockey State Championships where he is looking for a win to end his hockey year.
"I really enjoyed my first time representing Australia and my first time playing hockey overseas, hopefully I get more opportunities like that to play overseas, it was fun."