FIVE members of the Bendigo Blaze Inline Hockey Club have been selected to represent Australia overseas next year.
Brothers Bailey and Deklan Samuel, Jenna Smith and William Fitzpatrick were picked to play at the 2018 AAU Junior Olympics in California.
Two of the four – Bailey Samuel and William Fitzpatrick – have also been selected in the junior men’s world skate team to play in Colombia, while Matilda Fitzpatrick will play for Australia at next year’s world championships.
It follows standout performances at last month’s Inline Hockey Nationals in Moe.
Bendigo Blaze had 22 players in total represented in state teams, with the group combining to bring home 26 medals.
Club president Mel Beames said having five Australian players was a proud moment for the club and the individual athletes.
“Some of these players have only been playing within the last two or three years, while some have been playing from a very young age,” she said.
“These five players train hard, work hard and give it their best shot.
“I’ve coached most of them at some point and they really give their all and obviously that showed to the Australian team selectors at the nationals.
“I know they will do absolutely amazing.”
The international team selection was the first for four of the group, with Matilda Fitzpatrick having represented Australia at the world championships in China earlier this year.
She followed up by winning gold and silver medals at the nationals with the senior women’s and junior teams.
Her teammates in the junior team included club mate Smith.
Bailey Samuel and William Fitzpatrick emerged with a pair of silver medals in the under-17s and under-15, while Deklan Samuel won bronze with the under-11 team.
Matilda Fitzpatrick said she was again looking forward to playing for Australia after an exciting first-up experience in China with the under-18 women’s team.
“I did score two goals and got one assist in my first game (for Australia), which was pretty awesome for my first game on the world stage,” she said.
Beames said the Australians would be among the less-experienced teams competing in California and Colombia, but that would not stop them from having a red-hot crack.
“We are fairly new to the inline hockey world stage, but across the divisions we have some amazing players,” she said.
“We do pull some of our players from ice-hockey, so they are very multi-talented.
“A lot of the senior teams in particular have those ice hockey players, but as a whole Australia holds its own against the rest of the world.”