National honours beckon

"PRETTY COOL": Mount Gambier hockey player Mason Hill said it was "pretty cool" to be selected in the Australian Under 18 Futures Program. Picture: LACHLAN ONIONS

By Trevor Jackson

FOLLOWING on from the Hockey Under 18 Championships held in Cairns, two Mount Gambier athletes have been selected in the Under18 Futures squad.

Aiden Cameron and Mason Hill have been called up for the squad, with the real chance to compete against the best in the world into the future, including the 2026 Commonwealth Games, plus the 2028 and 2032 Olympic campaigns.

The two young stars were clearly excited about the chance to play at the highest level, with Cameron putting it quite simply.

“I am absolutely over the moon about it,” he said.

“It is pretty exciting.”

Likewise Hill was excited, suggesting it was “pretty cool” to be selected.

Both boys honed their skills in the Limestone Coast, later putting in the hard yards to travel and play in Adelaide.

Cameron recently moved to the state capital to further his hockey career, along with University duties, while Hill continues to travel from Mount Gambier, with a big workload of two Metro 1 games and a Premier League game each month.

The chance to play for Australia became a focus for both boys more recently, after years of competing at various levels, devoting their time to the game.

“I have played hockey all my life, since I was about eight years old,” Cameron said.

“I honestly can’t remember not playing.

“this is something I have focused on over the last year.

“I have played national and state tournaments over the years and last summer I was selected in a program to develop my skills to get picked into this Australian squad.”

Hill began the game at around seven years of age, following on in his parents footsteps, who met playing hockey.

The former Kingston resident and goal keeper remembers travelling to games to watch his parents, then when age permitted, he stepped up to tackle the game himself.

With a busy schedule, Hill no longer plays in Mount Gambier but concentrates on his skills in Adelaide, with an Australian call up a real dream and now a possibility.

“That would be awesome,” Hill said.

“This gives me an opportunity to achieve that which is exciting.

“It would be the dream to play in the Olympics, especially in 2032 at the Brisbane games.

“To represent Australia at a home games would be the ultimate.

“I will be 28 then so I will be right in the slot for it.”

Athletes in the futures program will be under the tutelage of former Kookaburras Mark Hagar and Mark Knowles, someone both boys are honoured to be associated with.

As an added bonus, both boys played hockey against each other in Mount Gambier and often travelled together to attend state and national competitions.

“It is great to have two representations from Mount Gambier,” Cameron said.

“It is unheard of.

“South Australia is not really renowned for getting players in this squad, so to get two from Mount Gambier is awesome.”

Hill was also pleased to have a mate along for the ride.

“I have played with Aiden since Under 13, we went to Perth together and we played in opposite teams here,” he said.

“We travelled away together along with Connor Millhouse.

“It wasn’t something we thought about too much and now we are in this position together.”

Both were thankful for the input of their parents over the years, after many trips to Adelaide and further afield to improve their skills.

Likewise, both said all the effort was well worth it, with their names now in the spotlight for one of the most coveted teams in Australia.

As for the opportunity to play for Australia, Hill put it simply.

“I reckon it would be pretty awesome,” he said.

“It is a big thing.

“We will see what happens from here.”