Haumaha completes fairytale return with Comm Games selection

Brodyn Knuckey
Source: 1News

An 18-strong Black Sticks women squad has been named to defend their Commonwealth Games crown in Birmingham, although only four members from the championship side of 2018 are featured.

Aniwaka Haumaha.

Hockey New Zealand and the New Zealand Olympic Committee announced the team on Thursday in Auckland with interim coach Darren Smith adding he was excited by the combinations the side has at their disposal this year.

"This is an exciting time for our women’s programme with quite a young team as we look to rebuild a little bit. However, the 18 we have selected are all incredibly talented and more than capable of going toe-to-toe with any side in the world," said Smith.

"There will be some real tests, but I have a lot of belief in our young group to give some cracking performances and stamp their mark at international level. This is where heroes are made and I’m sure all of New Zealand will be right behind them."

While the side features a few fresher faces, Thursday's selection also adds another remarkable chapter to veteran defender Aniwaka Haumaha's story.

Haumaha had not represented New Zealand for seven years before she was called up to face Australia in last month's trans-Tasman series.

After an impressive display throughout the series, the mother of two will get to realise a sporting dream with her first Commonwealth Games at 33.

"This doesn’t happen to everybody, especially after having two little kids," said Haumaha.

"I didn’t finish the first part of my career as I wanted to, and the fire was still in my belly so I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity to compete in Birmingham."

The Black Sticks women will face Kenya in their first game on July 29 and also have pool games against Australia, South Africa and Scotland.

Thursday's naming takes the total number of athletes currently selected to the New Zealand Team for Birmingham 2022 to 117.

Black Sticks women for Commonwealth Games: Olivia Merry [co-captain], Megan Hull [co-captain], Kaitlin Cotter, Anna Crowley, Stephanie Dickins, Katie Doar, Alia Jaques, Tyler Lench, Alex Lukin, Grace O'Hanlon, Hope Ralph, Brooke Roberts, Olivia Shannon, Rose Tynan, Frances Davies, Tarryn Davey, Ani Haumaha, Tessa Jopp.