Nico Ioane, from Mudgee, represented his nation of birth, Samoa, at the recent Oceania Cup hockey tournament in Sydney.
The Oceania Intercontinental Hockey 5s is a new format for international hockey, and proved popular with spectators and players. It is played on a half sized field with boards on the sides and is very fast paced with higher scores.
Participating nations were Vanuatu (men only), Fiji (women only), Tonga, Solomon Islands and Samoa. Australia Country played as an invitational team.
Samoa’s silver medal placing was their best ever result at an Oceania Cup tournament, going down to Vanuatu in the men’s final. Even more remarkable is Vanuatu and Fiji both have artificial turf fields to train on, while Samoa plays on grass fields which are very different.
Fiji downed Samoa in the gold medal match in the women’s competition.
The Samoan players showed a very high level of hockey skills and a huge amount of heart and determination through the tournament. Mudgee hockey has a connection with Samoa hockey, having had a team visit Samoa in 2014 and 2016.
Nico Ioane was vice captain of the Samoan team and assisted with coaching them.
The experience playing higher level hockey on artificial turf in Lithgow this year proved valuable during this tournament. It has been a big month for Ioane, he also represented NSW in Mens Masters Nationals in Hobart in late September.
The 11-a-side Oceania Cup competition was contested between Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.