Within three years the Mid North Coast will have a premier hockey competition that incorporates the best players from Coffs Harbour to Taree.
Hockey NSW regional coaching coordinator Leigh McIntosh saw first-hand the success of the inaugural Mid North Coast Hockey League in 2021 when he took to the field with the Camden Haven Anacondas.
This season's instalment only saw teams from Port Macquarie-Hastings and Manning, but Mr McIntosh believes there is enough interest to the north to fulfil a truly regional competition.
"We always had an eye on it being across the full Mid North Coast region and providing a premier competition for all the participants to aspire to. When you've got that premier competition, it helps promote your sport for the younger ones," he said.
Manning Valley and Port Macquarie-Hastings associations now appear to be on the right path and Mr McIntosh wants to cast the net further in a bid to gain support from Coffs Harbour.
"The reason why expansion would be a good thing is it gives our associations the opportunity to still maintain their local A-grade competitions, but also retain their top-level players who need that premier competition as well," he said.
"Hockey NSW at the moment are looking to put some formal processes around the premier competitions in the state. They're already looking at the success we had this year and including Mid North Coast as one of those top-tier NSW premier league competitions alongside Hunter and Central West."
"Hockey NSW are already looking at the success we had this year and including Mid North Coast as one of those top-tier NSW premier league competitions alongside Hunter and Central West."- Hockey NSW regional coaching coordinator Leigh McIntosh
McIntosh said Coffs Harbour were "certainly keen" on the concept and it was a time factor that scuppered their bid to join the competition in 2021.
"They see it as a higher standard than what the Grafton competition offers them. Currently they feel a little bit on the outside of the Grafton competition," he said.
All three regions will gain a further insight into how the expanded competition could work when Manning, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour all host games as part of a Mid North Coast Challenge tournament in the 2022 pre-season.
"We are looking at another shortened comp through March where we would play a game in each of the three centres," Mr McIntosh said.
Under the format, the home team would host a double header against the other two associations both in opens and under-18s - men's and women's divisions.
"It will give those places the opportunity to see what the travel is like and whether that is something they do want to take on," he said.
"That's the other advantage we do have now with the improvements on the highway. The travel time between Coffs Harbour and Taree has come right down which has previously been something that has turned people off.
"I definitely think in the next two to three years we'll have the full thing up and going."
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