South West Hockey Talent Thrives at State Search

Written on the 10 October 2023 by SWSAS

South West Hockey Talent Thrives at State Search

Up and coming hockey stars were put through their paces earlier this month in Newcastle, as a part of the Hockey NSW Futures Program and Festival of Hockey. The three-day event, hosted at the Newcastle Hockey Complex, near the home of the Hunter Academy of Sport, saw over 300 talent-identified junior hockey athletes from around the state undergo sport science and fitness testing, alongside various education and skill sessions. Aimed at formally kicking off the new development programs, which are being ran in conjunction with the Regional Academy of Sport network.

Joining the athletes was a host of Regional Academies of Sport sport science interns, strength and conditioning practitioners, and sport program managers who were on hand to conduct the fitness testing of the athletes, as well as identify those athletes from within their own region who would make up a large component of each Academy’s Hockey squad.

A total of 32 athletes from South West Sydney have been identified to be serviced by the South West Sydney Academy of Sport, who, throughout the Festival of Hockey, completely immersed themselves into the interactive educational sessions, with hands-on learning experiences. These sessions illuminated the vital principles of Maximum Aerobic Speed, Sleep and Recovery, making these key concepts easily comprehensible and underlining their pivotal roles in enhancing performance and promoting overall athlete well-being.  

One such athlete was Darcy Ryder, who on reflecting on his experience at the festival said, "I had a great time at the HockeyNSW Festival of Hockey. Meeting new friends and being part of this intense competition was an incredible experience”.  

Ryder, who is no stranger to the Academy, nor Hockey’s high performance pathway, having been a part of the 2022-2023 Club Menangle SWSAS Hockey Program, gave insight into the various fitness testing components, which are aimed to identify key strength and conditioning areas that athletes can improve on.

‘’The fitness tests were challenging, but I felt in control and pushed myself to the limits." Said Ryder, “They (Academy Staff) were there to push us and to help us get better, so to have this at the start of our journey will only help develop our potential.” Added Ryder.

Ryder's dedication and effort toward the Academy and the Hockey NSW Futures program showcase the immense potential and promising future he holds within the realm of hockey, as he aims to one day put on the green and gold at the highest level.

The festival provided the first of many holistic development experiences for the athletes, fostering camaraderie and sportsmanship among participants across the Regional Academy network and Hockey NSW, which goes a long way in ultimately promoting the growth of the sport. 

With the Hockey NSW Future Stars program about to get underway with the Academy providing a comprehensive education and strength training program, the Academy is also currently trialling athletes for its underpinning program, where it hopes to capture the next flock of rising stars.

And with promising talents like Darcy Ryder, and the support of Regional Academies such as the South West Sydney Academy of Sport, the future of hockey in New South Wales looks bright, and the sport is set to continue to thrive on both the regional and global stage.


For more information on the South West Sydney Academy of Sport and its Hockey Program, head to





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