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Australia Welcomes the Grand Masters of Hockey
The 8th Grand Masters Hockey World Cup got under way on a blustery afternoon in Newcastle, NSW. At the Opening Ceremony at the Newcastle International Hockey Centre the teams were greeted as they paraded onto the pitch by an Aboriginal dance troupe from Callaghan College, Jesmond. The players and their supporters were welcomed on behalf of the aboriginal people of Newcastle by Aunty June, and also by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Mrs Nuatali Nelmes and Ben Hurting from Hockey Australia.
The tournament was officially opened by Wim van Noortwijk, President of WGMA and the Australian national anthem was sung in aboriginal language and in English by the Waratah Primary School choir.
Play began with the first games later that afternoon with the final scheduled for Thursday 12th May. On Sunday 8th May the FIH President Leandro Negre arrived in Newcastle and attended the WGMA Congress where he applauded the development of Grand Masters hockey and stressed what an important role Grand Masters and Masters hockey now plays in the 'hockey family’.
On Tuesday 10th May over 1000 players, officials and supporters sat down to a gala dinner at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre where they were greeted by Cam Vale, CEO of Hockey Australia, and entertained by Bushfire, the Allan Ward Jazz Band and Adam Harrison, the current Australian Sheep Shearing Champion.
In the meantime well over 100 matches were being played on the three pitches. Keen competition on the field was followed by friendly post-match analysis by the two opposing sides in the beer tent afterwards and the fine Newcastle weather encouraged players and spectators to remain at the ground to give good support to the other matches. Another fine tournament was in full swing!
Hosts Australia featured in all three national finals at the Grand Masters Hockey World Cup at Newcastle. They had to rely on a penalty shoot-out to collect their first success against England in the Over 70 category and followed this with a narrow 1-0 win over England at Over 65. Having also won the uncontested Over 75 World Cup Australia lined up against Netherlands in the Over 60 final looking to put the final seal on a highly successful tournament. The Dutch however spoilt their party with a convincing 2-0 win to ensure that at least one World Cup trophy returned to Europe. England took the Over 60 bronze medal with a play-off win over Germany and both New Zealand and Wales picked up their first ever Grand Masters medals with bronze in the Over 65 and Over 70 sections.
In the Tournament Trophy Australia also featured prominently with wins for Southern Cross Blue in the Over 65 and Over 70 sections - both closely fought contests against England’s LX Club. However consolation for LX came when LX Red overcame Southern Cross Blue to take the Over 60 title.
It had been a highly competitive tournament with some outstanding performances from many of the nations who are getting ever closer to the established top teams. Spain startled everyone with a sparkling win over Australia in their very first game and Ireland, Japan, South Africa, Scotland, Belgium, Malaysia and first-timers Singapore all had moments they will remember and which will hopefully encourage them to gather again in Barcelona, Spain for the next Grand Masters Hockey World Cup in 2018.