5 Jul 2016

Black Sticks to make calls in Māori at Rio

8:23 pm on 5 July 2016

The Black Sticks are training like mad ahead of the Olympics, but it's not just their dribbling, tackling and passing skills that are getting a work-out.

The national women's hockey players are learning te reo Māori, which they plan to use to make all their team calls while playing in Rio.

Ironically, it was their Australian coach Mark Hager who came up with the idea.

The team will be named on Thursday, and if Kayla Whitelock is selected it will be her fourth Olympics.

The veteran player didn't want to give all the team's calls away, but told Checkpoint with John Campbell she was looking forward to learning more te reo.

"When you go to an Olympic games, or someone gets up and speaks in Māori, it's pretty special and it kind of gives me shivers down my back. It's a pretty special culture that we have."

The squad was the strongest she had been in, and she believed they had a good chance.

"I've learnt obviously different things from every Olympic games and I'm hoping this one we can really get there and get a medal.

"It is going to be tough, we know it will be, but we're definitely up there with a chance."

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