Spotswood College student rolling to China
24 Aug 2017
Spotswood College student Cory Bedford fully expects to be carrying the bags when he gets to China in early September.
Bedford, 17, is the youngest by several years to be selected in the New Zealand senior men's roller hockey squad to compete at the World Roller Games in Nanjing.
"I think there is a four or five year gap to the next youngest player, so I'll be there to do a bit of work and I don't expect to get heaps of game time," he said.
For those not entirely sure of the differences between roller hockey and in-line hockey, there are a number, including the fact the former is played with a field ball and not a puck, the skates are different and the sticks are shorter in Bedford's chosen sport.
While he's played both, Bedford understandably enjoys the sport he has gained national honours in having taken it up more than 11 years ago along like the majority of his family.
Although the sport has been falling in popularity, there are still clubs in Auckland, Taranaki, Wanganui and Wellington who gather every three months or so for national tournaments.
With four outfield players and one goalie on the rink at any one time, it's a fast paced sport, especially with rolling subs allowed throughout the two halves.
That's part of the attraction for the Year 13 student whose national selection in the 10-man squad followed a series of training camps.
New Zealand is ranked well down the world order in roller hockey and will play in the lower tier at the games that will feature 4000 athletes from 43 countries competing across a wide range of disciplines including artistic, alpine, downhill, in-line, freestyle, in-line hockey, roller derby, roller freestyle, skateboarding, speed skating and marathon.
Having never been to China before, Bedford was naturally curious about what it would be like but he fully expects to be blown away by the sheer volume of people competing and the facilities they will enjoy while there.
"It's going to be an eye opener, that's for sure."
New Zealand will play the opening match of the tournament against the hosts before they meet Australia, Japan, Israel and India in pool play.
"We haven't set any real goals apart from winning as many games as we can," he added.
"I know I'm not going to be on the rink a lot given it's the first time I've made it in the New Zealand team but I'll be real happy with any time I get."
Helping Bedford adjust to the demands of the senior team will be his former national under-21 coach Tony Dellar who has been designated as his room-mate for the fortnight they will be in China.
"Hopefully this is the first of many tournaments for me because I'd like to get around the world with the sport."