The Māori Inline Hockey team are preparing to take on the New Zealand All Stars next week.
While Ngāi Tahu forward Richard Hopkinson is no stranger to international matches, representing his Māori heritage marks a significant point in his sporting career.
A new door has opened for Māori sports. Richard Hopkinson says, “I feel honoured. I was never really big into the Māori culture growing up but it's an honour to represent my family and be a part of the first Māori team.”
Hopkinson is working overtime for the NZ Māori's first ever inline hockey match.
He says, “Because we are not all in the same area it's harder to get together as a team and train, so it's very much just go off on your own and make sure you're fit and ready to play.”
Hopskinson represented NZ in 2012 at the Oceania Championships. The following year he represented NZ at the AAU Junior Olympics.
“I started playing when I was in primary school. A teacher of mine ran a beginners league and always pestered my parents and it took off from there.”
Like most Kiwi kids, he grew up playing rugby. But when he discovered this lesser known sport, he was hooked.
“I can't really explain it. It's just so much faster, it wasn't any less physical, it was just an adrenaline rush and like nothing else I have ever experienced in my life.”
The NZ Māori side will face the NZ All Stars on September 30.