One of the best hockey players Waipā has produced has secured a professional contract with a leading Dutch club.
Jackson Beale, 18, will make his debut for Hockey Club (HC) Houten sometime in the next week. He flew out of New Zealand yesterday (Wednesday) en-route to Amsterdam via Los Angeles.
The midfielder, who plays for the Te Awamutu Sports Hockey premier men’s team, came to the attention of social media purists during the first Covid lockdown in 2020 when he won the Waikato Hockey Trick for a Stick competition.
While Jackson was working through options for tertiary study towards the end of last year – scholarships at AUT and Waikato were on the cards – his mother Paulette suggested he might want to look at playing hockey overseas during a gap year.
He put his CV out on the market with videos of him playing for Cambridge HS, Te Awamutu and Waikato – and had a lucky break when Stephen Atkinson, a former St Peter’s School student who had played for HC Houten, put in a good word for him.
Houten head coach Jens de Graauw took a punt and signed Beale.
Houten, a commuter city known for its bicycle friendliness, has a population of about 50,000 and is in the centre of The Netherlands in the Utrecht province.
While it is a professional contract, Jackson is not getting paid – mum Paulette and dad Colin are his major sponsors – he will get accommodation provided and the club is already setting up work opportunities.
Jackson is in The Netherlands on a 90-day tourist visa but the opportunity to extend that is promising.
Cambridge High School hockey manager Glenys Bichan said Jackson was a huge talent.
“He has worked really hard for this and we couldn’t be prouder of him. He is a humble guy but I think this is a great honour for him, his family our school hockey and our town.”