While their bodies may be slowing down, the competitive spirits of Tim Brenton and Jim Matthews are as strong as ever.
The Nelson hockey stalwarts are currently preparing for the Grand Masters Hockey World Cup in Barcelona from June 20-30.
Tim, 61, will be attending his eighth masters games and Jim, 64, his third.
Jim and Tim will play in the men’s 65+ and men’s 60+ competitions respectively.
“We’re really looking forward to it, international tournaments are quite different to the trans-Tasman competitions which we play in every second year,” says Tim.
Jim says teams around the globe all play with a unique style, making the tournament challenging.
“For example, the Asian teams such as Korea or Japan, they are very skilful, quick and zippy.”
There are 18 teams in the over 60s age group at the world masters and 14 in the over 65s.
Tim, a centre forward, says they have drawn a challenging pool.
“We have a very tough draw, we have to get through that first, but we will go there with the belief we can win it.”
Tim’s over-60 side will play Belgium, Argentina and England in pool play, who he says are among the toughest in the world.
However, New Zealand certainly aren’t lacking talent themselves.
“We have three players who represented New Zealand in the 80s,” Tim says.
Striker Jim says a lot of the players he will face have been internationals at a young age.
“They were very good hockey players in their day, they still are, just a bit slower.”
He says there is a lot of talent, everyone is just a bit older but it’s still good hockey to watch.
“My wife, who was not a hockey person, has been to the last few tournaments and she just loves it.”
The two seasoned veterans have an intense training regime.
“It gets hard at this time of the year because it gets dark and miserable, but you have to keep your fitness up,” says Tim.
Jim rides to work every day and runs two to three times per week.
This is on top of the training camps they attend with their teams.
“During a camp we will play up to three games over the weekend. When you get to our age recovery is pretty damn important, but we are still reasonably mobile.”
The tournament will be held in temperatures over 30-degrees in Barcelona.
“Having played in Seoul and Singapore we should be ok, those places were really hot,” Jim says.
The pair play for the Waimea Endeavours and have been in rep teams together since the 1980s.
Tim says his secret to longevity in the game has been simply staying injury-free.
“At the end of the day I just love the game, what’s kept me in it is comradery, we’ve stuck together for years.”
Tim says if it was “more golden oldies, hit and giggle” he doesn’t think he would still be playing, “I just love the competitive side of things.”
Jim says that between the ears he is still the same and still goes out with that same competitiveness.
He plans to keep playing until his body doesn’t allow. “They have 70s and 75s, well just keep turning up as long as we can.”