Battleground Gympie: Town to host Australia v New Zealand
ROLLER HOCKEY: Gympie will host its second international roller hockey event in as many years with the announcement that the Australian team will face New Zealand in the Trans Tasman Cup from May 10-12.
Gympie's SkateZone will host the tournament, and owner Darren Nyberg, who was integral in the bid to secure the tournament, said the region was a strong roller hockey location with many representative players hailing from the Gold City.
Nyberg said Gympie has been recognised as a location suitable for holding international games.
The Trans Tasman Cup will bring more than 400 players and more than 1200 people to the town.
"I've been involved in roller hockey for some time and was asked to put in a tender for the tournament," Nyberg said.
"We ran up against other tenders from across the country and I guess our tender was more favourable.
"We are trying to work with council to get on board to help us out. So that's pending."
The Trans Tasman Cup will feature competition in Youth, Mens, Ladies, Masters and Veterans divisions, with team selections and specific age categories to be finalised by February after the Australia Day Cup to be held in Melbourne.
The Australian team played in New Zealand in 2016, the last instalment of the cup. The Trans Tasman Cup is played every second year, and goes from one country to the next.
"Last year the Trans Tasman wasn't played because the worlds (World Cup) were in China, next year it's in Barcelona," Nyberg said.
Nyberg said the sport was huge overseas but had flown under the radar in Australia, but that meant such big tournaments could be held in smaller locations such as Gympie.
"I'm yet to find any local sporting club besides us to bring an international tournament to town," Nyberg said.
"I think that's a big tick in the box.
"Considering our club has only been going for 12 months it is incredible."
In Europe, most football clubs have teams in other sports. FC Barcelona, made famous by Lionel Messi and Co, also have a roller hockey team at the same club.
Roller hockey Australia chairman and national team coach Stephan Hoey said the sport had been around in Australia for 40 years.
"The connection between Australia and New Zealand is a huge deal," Hoey said.
"For us, and both countries, we consider it the most prestigious and important event.
"We hope it will inject a lot of exposure and interest in the sport."
Hoey said Gympie was a strategic location for roller hockey within the state.
"Gympie is a big deal for us, it is the connection between southern Queensland and north Queensland," he said.
"We see Gympie as the centre between those two and we hope it will really expose it.
"Everyone has the opportunity to try out for the team and play for Australia."
Hoey said he held one concern for the event in Gympie and hoped it can be addressed with the aid of council.
"Our concern is that the stadium will be able to hold the amount of people we are expecting," he said.
"If you put the players together, that's a couple of hundred people, and if you have the add-ons that's at least a thousand people."
In relation to crowds, Nyberg said Gympie locals will fall in love with the sport once they see it.
"It's a full on, go go go sport, it's non-stop action.
"Hopefully the public come and support it."
The Trans Tasman Cup will take place from May 10-12 at SkateZone.
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