St Albans’ Llewellyn Heale has turned the skills he learnt on a concrete tennis court with wooden sticks and a tennis ball into a New Zealand under-21 hockey call-up.
It is the first time Heale has been part of a national squad, with 30 players selected for a camp in Hawkes Bay from July 16-20.
That squad will be cut to a travelling squad for the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia in October before a test series against Australia in December.
Heale, a midfielder, has captained teams throughout the age-grades and said he will relish the chance to be part of a national team environment.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity to learn loads and I hope to make the most of it,” he said.
The 19-year-old has come through the Canterbury age-group system, playing Hatch Cup twice, under-15s, regionals and under-21s.
The former Christ’s College captain moved to the Hornby club this season, eager to take on more responsibility.
“Hornby gave me the best chance to be a leader and have the greatest impact on team success,” he said.
Heale described himself as a pass-oriented player who likes to play at pace with vision up the field.
Heale is one of seven Canterbury players in the squad with Louis Beckert, Lawrence Darling, Moss Jackson, Declan Keaney, Sam Lane, Harry Lawson and Gus Wakeling also part of the camp.
The squad was selected following the national under-21 tournament in May where selectors put together the 2018 national programme with the main focus being the transtasman series at the end of the year.