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Prestigious Aussie polocrosse scholarship for Far North teen

Wade playing for the Under 16 Junior Northland Representative team against King Country earlier this year. Photo/ Supplied

It’s a game that’s dwindled significantly in the past 20 years in Northland, but thanks to a new generation of polocrosse enthusiasts, the sport is slowly making a comeback.

Polocrosse was developed in Australia in 1938 and is an equestrian team sport made up of a combination of polo, lacrosse and netball.

Players use a lacrosse-like stick (racquet) with a netted head for carrying, catching, bouncing and throwing a 10-cm thick rubber ball, used to throw through an opponent’s goalposts situated at the opposite end of the playing field.

Polocrosse was once a thriving activity throughout Northland and the country, with the first club established in 1967 in the King Country, according to Polocrosse NZ.

From there the sport spread and developed extensively throughout the North Island, becoming particularly popular in Northland given its large farming and rural communities.

Participation in the game started to drop off in the last two decades, however with Northland going from around 10-15 clubs to now just one in Kaikohe and nine across the whole of the North Island.

Fifteen-year-old Wade Morey, from Kaitaia, is one of several young people keen to revive the sport and already has three seasons of playing under his belt.

Wade was introduced to the sport by his dad, Steve, who used to also play professionally in his youth.

The father and son began going to polocrosse practice when Wade was about 13 and the teen said he’d been hooked ever since.

“I love the speed of it as it can get quite fast. I also enjoy the challenge of bettering my horse skills each game,” Wade said.

“I’ve met a lot of friends through playing polocrosse as well and hope to one day play for New Zealand at the World Cup.”

Wade plays for Kaikohe Polocrosse Club, which falls under the banner of the Northland Polocrosse Association.

The Kaitaia College student played in the New Zealand Junior championships in Kaikohe in January, where his team, the Under-16s Northland Representative team, won their division.

As a result, Wade-along with three other Northland players- were selected to play for New Zealand Under 16s Representative Team at the upcoming Junior Test Series Australia v New Zealand in Narrabri (Australia) on July 8-10.

Wade also applied for a scholarship to coincide with his trip across the ditch and recently found out he was one of only two people to be awarded the special bursary.

The teen will therefore bill with an Australian polocrosse family for the entirety of his time in Australia, which he said he was looking forward to.

“I only found out about three weeks ago. It’s pretty exciting as it’s the first time I have traveled outside of New Zealand,” he said.

Wade will head off next month on June 22 a few weeks prior to the Junior Test Series, where he’ll participate in a couple of local weekend tournaments before he’ll be joined by his parents a few days out from the Narrabri tournament.

Wade’s dad Steve and mum Katrina said they were very proud of their son and were grateful to the Kaikohe Polocrosse Club and families who had supported Wade thus far.

Steve said he had traveled to the US for polocrosse in his younger years and was excited to watch Wade on his own polocrosse journey.

“This is a great opportunity for Wade because through polocrosse you can meet lifelong friends from all different countries,” Steve said.

“It’s also a great family sport, with a lot of good people involved, and you get to go to places you may not have normally gone.”

The New Zealand Junior Under 16 representative team with coach Dean Gower who will play in Narrabri, Australia in July.  Photo/ Supplied
The New Zealand Junior Under 16 representative team with coach Dean Gower who will play in Narrabri, Australia in July. Photo/ Supplied

Mum Katrina agreed and said the sport required a lot of time and dedication. She was proud of her boy from Kaitaia doing great things on the world stage.

“Wade has stuck at it all the way, which takes a lot of commitment with training before and after school and every weekend traveling somewhere,” Katrina said.

“There are a lot of other things he could be doing, but every weekend we’re off to places like Kaikohe, Auckland, Taumarunui and Otorohanga.

“We’ll usually pack up on Friday, drive through the night, then Wade will play Saturday and Sunday, before heading back on Sunday night and back to school the next day.

“There’s no time for mischief, everyone is too tired!”

NZ polocrosse association board member Russell Ty said each year before Covid-19, teams from New Zealand and Australia would cross the Tasman to compete at different tournaments in each country.

Ty said to be selected for a scholarship, applications must go through a coaching panel and those selected would receive half their airfare paid and half the cost of insurance.

He said this year was the first time since the start of the pandemic that teams would recommence the trip and choosing the scholarship had been tough given the standard of applicants.

“As a board, we were really pleased with the high level of applicants which made it very difficult to choose,” Ty said.

“This is a feather in the caps of those who were selected because it says a lot about their character both on and off the field and we look forward to seeing them represent our country and getting reports back from them when they return.”

Wade will be sent to a family in New South Wales, with the other scholarship recipient, Jade Davidson from Waikato, going to Wandoan in Queensland.

According to the Polocrosse World Cup website, there are over 250 clubs throughout Australia, with teams also in South Africa, Zimbabwe, USA, Canada, England, Ireland, France, The Netherlands, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Denmark, Finland, Mexico and Argentina.


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