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Illawarra Mercury

Sweet sixteen and in the team

Date: 27/07/2005
Words: 400
Source: ILL
          Publication: Illawarra Mercury
Section: Sport
Page: 56
SWEET 16 has taken on a whole new meaning for Albion Park hockey player Casey Eastham.

The teenager joined elite company on Monday when named a member of the Australian under 21 team to contest the Junior World Cup in Chile in September.

Selectors have chosen a strong side for the 11-day tournament, with Hockeyroos Madonna Blyth, Susannah Harris, Kate Hollywood, Amy Korner and Kobie McGurk named alongside Eastham in the 18-member team.

The Albion Park High Year 11 student also joins a small group, that includes 1992 Olympian Ashley Carey, as players selected for the Junior World Cup at the tender age of 16.

"I was ecstatic when I heard that I was in the team, I honestly didn't know what to expect," Eastham said.

"Everyone has potential, we just had to see who the selectors wanted. I can't wait for it all to happen now," Eastham said.

She said the team's up-tempo style would suit her.

"With the system we are playing, you will need to be pretty fit," she said. "It will be tough but it should be good."

Eastham rose to prominence with a strong performance at last year's Australian under 21 championships and with a player-of-the-tournament effort at this year's national under 18 titles.

Australian under 21 coach Des King said Eastham's performances warranted her selection despite her inexperience.

"We don't want to rush them but if you are good enough you are old enough, and she is good enough," he said.

"There are no guarantees but she certainly has some talent and we look forward to seeing her development in the future.

"One of the best things is she is so coach-able, she has a very good head on her shoulders."

Preparations for the Junior World Cup will start on Friday when Eastham joins her team-mates for a tour of China.

King said Eastham would receive plenty of playing time at the four-nation event.

Australia will play Germany, Japan and the host nation during the week-long tournament.

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