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Simon Thresher believes there is merit - albeit limited - to Coffs Harbour's unofficial plans to join the Mid North Coast Hockey League.
Coffs already play in the Grafton competition, but the Port Macquarie-Hastings Hockey Association president confirmed there has been no official communication between them and their northern neighbours.
Manning president Tony Barton indicated last week there could be scope to include Coffs Harbour in the competition for 2023.
The Mid North Coast competition is currently contested by men's and women's division one sides from the Manning and Hastings associations after the league started in 2021.
Thresher admitted it was all news to him and said Port Macquarie has "not been privy to any conversations between Manning Valley Hockey Association and Coffs Coast Hockey Association."
He is unaware of any immediate plans to include Coffs Harbour in any weekly-based competition although it isn't a new concept. Coffs have previously expressed an interest, although those discussions have gone nowhere.
"We are dedicated to finding the 'best fit' for our A Grade and Hockey League players and continuing a pathway for our better local players in conjunction with our counterparts in the Manning," Thresher said.
The Port Macquarie president indicated players had been reluctant to travel additional distances on a weekly basis which may prove an inhibiting factor for a Coffs Harbour team's admission.
"We (Port Macquarie-Hastings) are completely dedicated to improving the annual 'Mid North Coast Regional Challenge' across the junior age groups," Thresher said.
"This challenge supports the preparation of the Manning Valley, Port Macquarie-Hastings, and Coffs Coast Hockey Associations to prepare their respective age groups representative teams for the annual Hockey NSW State Championships.
"It was a PMHHA initiative born out of a need to give our under-11s sides the opportunity to play the full field format, as they normally play modified hockey week-in week-out, prior to heading away to their annual under 11 challenge in Tamworth."
This format may be the link to bring all 3 regional associations together across all ages.
"The existing format will continue between Port and Taree,'' Barton said.
"There has been some interest from Coffs Harbour in somehow linking with us. At this stage we don't know what that looks like - whether it's just a couple of weekends throughout the season.''
Since its inception in 2019, the Mid North Coast Regional Challenge has expanded to include boys and girls rep teams across the under-11, under-13, under-15 and under-18 age groups.
"Hopefully we can expand on the current successful format and include open aged and/or masters aged players in a truly inclusive event so that it remains a permanent fixture on the hockey calendar within the region," Thresher said.
"This would allow the associations under the HNSW "Mid-North Coast Sharks" banner, an opportunity to fully understand the standards of play within our region and show each association the areas in which they are strong and the areas which need work along with fostering the relationships between the regional hockey associations."
However, Mr Barton stressed there are no plans to include Coffs Harbour sides in a weekly competition.
"I don't think our people would travel,'' he said.
Mr Barton said Manning vice president Tony Lewis will continue to negotiate with Coffs Harbour and Hastings to see what can be worked out.
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