Federal's Diane Webb is one of a handful of women who will play top flight Nelson hockey against men this year. Photo: Jacob Page.

Hockey women to battle men in 2017

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One of Nelson hockey’s top female players has praised Nelson hockey’s decision to mix the top grades of the club competition and allow top women’s players to play against men this season.

Diane Webb, a New Zealand masters veteran, is one of those players given dispensation to play against men this year as the sport looks for innovative ways to keep people in the game as the pressures of modern life draw people away from Saturday sport.

The Federal player says, while the men are faster and more physical, women can and have been competitive this year, with a women’s team beating a men’s division two team last week.

“It’s making us train harder because playing against men you have to be faster and tougher.”

Diane says the step up isn’t as big as it seems on paper.

“They’re a bit stronger on the ball so you have to prepare for that.

“Nelson hockey teams had become a bit soft and that was evident in our women’s teams, so I give them credit for coming up with this to try to change it.”

Diane says, with just two top flight women’s teams in 2017, the move has allowed more competitive matches and ensured the sport at club level moves with the times.

Nelson Hockey hopes the move will keep women in the game for longer in the future.