STOP IT: Peter Neilson in training. The goalkeeper is preparing to represent FNC at the forthcoming over-50s State Masters championships.
STOP IT: Peter Neilson in training. The goalkeeper is preparing to represent FNC at the forthcoming over-50s State Masters championships. Doug Eaton

His goal is to prevent one

IT takes a special person to plant his body between rampaging hockey players and the goal - and Peter Neilson is one of those people.

The Goonellabah player, who is preparing for the state championships, loves being a goalkeeper - even if he does occasionally question his sanity.

"That's what everyone says to you," he said with a smile. "Maybe you have to be a little bit mad.

"The thing about being a goalkeeper is that even though hockey is a team sport, it's really an individual position.

"I've been in a few grand finals where it's gone to penalty shootouts to win.

"It's a position where you can win the match for your team."

The 50-year-old who plays for Ballina in the region's B grade competition, took up hockey as a teenager.

He became a goalkeeper about 30 years ago and has stayed between the sticks ever since.

So what goes through his mind when an attacker is bearing down on goal?

"I don't think a lot about getting hurt," Neilson said.

"I'm just trying to get close to the attacker so that if the ball does rise it will hit my protective pads.

"It's just about being in the right direction to cut down the angles."

Neilson has been named in the FNC squad for next month's over-50s State Masters championships in the Manning Valley.

The three-day competition will feature some of the best amateur players in the age group from across New South Wales.

Neilson, who is also on the Australian reserve list for the World Masters championships later this year, said he would not swap his role in goal for any other.

"It was a bit daunting at first, but if I had played anywhere else I don't think I would have achieved as much," he said.

"The rules have changed over the years to allow more goals, so it's a lot harder for goalkeepers.

"I wouldn't change it."


Peter Neilson's quick guide to hockey goalkeeping:

Razor-sharp moves: "Agility is very important for a hockey goalkeeper. It's something you've got to keep improving if you can. You've got to stay reasonably fit. The fitter you are, the better you can concentrate as well."

A spring in your step: "You've got to be flexible. Getting off the ground quickly is important to a hockey goalkeeper. You've got to be able to move well."

A sharp mind: "I work on my hand/eye co-ordination a lot, even if it's just kicking or throwing tennis or soccer balls and catching them as practice. You've got to be able to think quickly."

Bravery: "I think you do have to be brave a little bit. The main thing is putting yourself in positions where you can save the ball and not get hurt."

Use your brain as well as brawn: "Reading the game really helps too. If you can anticipate where play will go, you can be in the best position to make the save."

A profitable partnership

A profitable partnership

East Ballina Lions and Ballina Fair partner to support farmers

Keeping the heart beating

Keeping the heart beating

Bike ride to raise AED awareness

Skatefest going ahead

Skatefest going ahead

Fair Go Skatefest to run again this year

Local Partners