The staging of a hugely successful western junior carnival is the latest sign things at Dubbo Hockey Association are trending upwards.
Thirteen teams, five male and eight female, from around the region were in action at Pioneer Park on the weekend, savouring the chance to play against some new opposition and develop their skills.
Glenn Johnstone, Hockey NSW's Regional Participation Coordinator for Western, was not only delighted by the number of players and talent on show but he also liked what he saw from what is a relatively new Dubbo association headed by president Tracie Hardie-Jones.
As well as having a number of volunteers on deck to help the day run smoothly there was plenty of music and dancing to add to the atmosphere and Johnstone said it was the latest in a number of positive decisions made by the association.
"It never hurts getting new people in and fresh ideas and they're certainly bringing something different, which is great," Johnstone said.
"They've changed their junior program to Sundays to try to encourage different sportspeople to come and play, which is a great idea.
"They're doing a great job and I could see the difference in the atmosphere when I was saw there on Sunday. It was a lot more positive."
Johnstone added "we need Dubbo to grow" the game given it is a major centre in the region and he was hopeful the current committee would be in for the long haul to help make that happen.
A strong junior base would go a long way to helping the Dubbo association get in a position to be able to field sides in the Central West Premier League Hockey competition again, with senior sides having not played there since 2016.
Some of the players who could one day represent the city on the senior stage were in action on Sunday.
A number of Dubbo sides were part of the carnival and no scores were kept in any of the games played as a focus was put on development and fun.
Johnstone said it was clear to see those goals were achieved.
"All about developing their game and themselves as people, meeting new people, and having some fun," he said.
"When you watch the first couple of games and then watch the last round you can see the improvement over the day, which is credit to the coaches and athletes. They're obviously listening and wanting to learn."
"Sometimes you can go to sporting events, no matter the sport, and people can be a bit competitive but everyone was just so positive on the weekend."
The carnival came during what has been an exciting couple of weeks for hockey in Dubbo after youngster Zamael Berger was recently selected in the NSW boys' under 13s side.
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