Ben White: Ready to stick it to the competition and defend YOG gold
12 September 2018
BUENOS AIRES: At just 17 years old, Ben White co-captained his side to Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) qualification, took out leading goal scorer at 28 goals and also bagged player of the tournament at the Oceania Youth Olympic qualifiers in Port Moresby, PNG.
Now, the Victorian will lead the men’s Hockey 5s in their quest for their third Youth Olympic Games gold medal.
“Coming into the YOG as defending champs adds a little bit of pressure, but it’s more exciting,” White said.
“We have a drive that no other team will have, in trying to defend the trophies we won at the last two YOG’s.
“If we’re able to play our best hockey, we could be part of something so special. We can give back to Australia by making history with back to back, to back, wins at the Youth Olympic Games.
“If we could make it three from three, it would be something that stays with us for a lifetime” the passionate teen said.
At the inaugural YOG at Singapore 2010, the Australian side were able to bring home gold against Pakistan, 2-1 and then recreated their golden form at Nanjing 2014, beating Canada in the final in a nail-biting penalty shootout.
White believes his team are primed to do the same at this year’s YOG, and although their ages range anywhere from 16-18, most players already have at least ten years’ experience playing the sport they love.
“Our team this year is very versatile. We’ve got players who are skilled in multiple positions which gives us great depth. The team as a whole is made up of players who are extremely strong defensively and we take pride in our attacking flair,” he said.
For the both the men’s and women’s hockey 5s teams to qualify for the YOG, they had to compete in the U18 National Tournament in Tasmania. From there, Hockey Australia selectors chose the squad that would travel to Papua New Guinea for the Oceania qualifiers.
After taking out the Oceania qualifiers, a selection camp was held in Adelaide where the team of 9 was finally chosen from 17 to represent Australia in Argentina next month.
White is joined by teammates Lain Carr, James Collins, Miles Davis, Brad and Craig Marais, Alistair Murray and Christian Starkie, coming from NSW, VIC and WA.
The Year 12 student says he is excited to join forces players he usually competes against.
“This will be a chance to play alongside teammates that all my life I have only ever known as opponents,” he said.
“Travelling with your team, building friendships, seeing the world and playing the sport you love... It really doesn’t get much better than that.”
Last year Ben competed in the School Sport Australia International Hockey Tour through Germany, Budapest and Hungary where he took on the role of co-captain with fellow YOG competitor Brad Marais, and helped lead his team to an impressive second place.
“I was lucky enough to be co-captains with one of my good mates at both the SSA International Hockey Tour and the Oceania qualifiers. Having the opportunity to lead the side through the tournaments alongside him was extremely special,” he said.
“I was also lucky enough to be voted best player of the tournament, by my peers which was a great honour.”
For the first time, Australia will field both a men’s and women’s hockey team at Buenos Aires 2018. Click HERE to see both selected teams.