Arun Panchia captained Aotearoa's Black Sticks Men's hockey team to a Commonwealth Games silver medal and shares a few thoughts for the Niche Cache...
It’s an honour to be apart of a NZ team heading away to any Games. The opportunity to be apart of a wider NZ team which competes in a range of sports is pretty cool and it’s always nice having a bigger than usual following for hockey.
Being on the Gold Coast was awesome as friends and family had the opportunity to come along and we had great support from kiwis that are over there. Captaining the side was an honour - we have a great group of guys who get along very well and a culture which is a key strength of ours. We learnt a lot in 2017 about our own game and culture and I think we are now seeing some growth which is good to see we are heading in the right direction.
Commonwealth Games is an important tournament for us and for hockey. As I said we tend to get more people watching hockey which is great for the game and it certainly helps when you're doing well and scoring goals. We managed to do that throughout the tournament, scoring a lot of goals and at critical points in the match - something we haven’t done well in the past. This really gave us the confidence to play our own game as best we could, which I believe is why we ended up in the final.
Canada, South Africa and Scotland were all tricky opponents who we knew would be targeting us as a game which could give them a good shot at making it through pool play. We played reasonably well against all three scoring a lot of goals and really were able to control the tempo of each game. Our PCA (PC attack) was fantastic which helped but in general our attack was dangerous and gave us some good opportunities. The second half of the tournament - final pool game vs Aus, semi and final were all good games of finals hockey which were a step up.
The semi vs India was a repeat of Glasgow and we knew that India would throw everything at us in the final quarter once we went up. We were happy with our defense in that final quarter and when things got hectic towards the end we pulled through which was a great feeling for this group. The final was a bit of mixed emotions as we didn’t play our best game but Australia were sharp and were able to control most of the game. In the end it was an awesome experience and to come home with a silver medal is an achievement we’re very proud of.
Overall it was an amazing result for hockey with the girls winning gold and hopefully the sport has gained a few more fans. For us now it’s back to normal - a bunch of us head back to NZ to recover and begin training for the rest of the year which is a build up to the World Cup in December. We have a group of guys heading over the Europe to finish their club seasons, with a few of the kiwi boys playing in the European Hockey League finals in May.