Nelson College student Devon Stove will be putting his field hockey stick aside for a couple of weeks and picking up his in-line skates and stick as he joins the New Zealand junior in-line hockey team for the world champs in China.
Devon, 17, has been playing in-line and field hockey since he was at primary school and has been a regular member of national in-line age group teams since he was 12.
He was selected for the team to play at the world junior champs after trialling last December and next Tuesday travels to Nanjing to play in the tournament which is part of the World Roller Games.
Devon says the games will feature 10 different roller sports, including in-line hockey, rink hockey, downhill in-line racing and freestyle in-line skating.
All the best in-line hockey nations have entered and Devon says the standard of competition will be extremely high.
“All the big ice hockey nations will be there like the US and Canada and Sweden, and they are the top in-line teams, too. There’ll be 18 teams playing in four pools with the top two in each pool going through to the quarters, so it’s going to be very difficult even making the top eight.”
And when Devon is finished in China, he’ll be getting straight back into the field hockey when he returns to New Zealand on September 2, flying directly from Auckland to Palmerston North and then driving to Whanganui for the Founders Cup secondary schoolboys tournament.
“It’s going to be interesting switching from in-line back to field again because they are two completely different games. There’s only five players on the rink in in-line and you can use both sides of the stick and there’s a puck instead of a ball – the rules are different, too.”
But first Devon will have to attend to some field hockey commitments with his Nelson College First XI team playing in the Tasman secondary school champs at Saxton Field on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Devon says the tournament will be an emotional one for many of the Nelson College players as they will be contesting the Mark Wilkens Memorial Trophy, in memory of the Nelson provincial stalwart who died suddenly at Saxton Field in 2015.
“My dad (Craig) played touch with Wilkie so I’d known him all my life,” Devon says. “I was also playing in the game when he died and he was a Nelson College old boy, so it means a lot to us.”
Devon will be wearing the team’s No11 jersey in memory of Mark who also wore the same number in his playing days.
Devon’s jersey has the words ‘In memory of Mark Wilkens’ embroidered on the sleeve.
Nelson College will play Waimea College, Nayland College and Marlborough Boys College in the tournament.