National title, selection and local win cap big weekend
IF YOU ever need an example of a hard-working junior athlete with the drive for success, look no further than Justin Alford.
The 18-year-old gun midfielder drives about 250km a week from Bellingen to play for Bears in the Grafton Hockey Association's Premier League, but his latest effort left even that regular effort in the dust.
Alford spent last week in Toowoomba representing New South Wales at the Country Championships, and drove back to Grafton to help Bears thrash Royals 10-0 on Sunday night.
Bears captain Dave Dart praised Alford's effort.
"You could tell he was tired but he was as strong as ever," Dart said.
"He's the first person I'd pick in my team. He's a great player and a better guy."
NSW went undefeated through the round robin stage, notching up four impressive victories, including a first-up 8-0 thrashing of South Australia in which Alford scored the last goal.
The only blemish to their record was a 3-3 draw with Queensland, who they later beat 2-1 in the grand final.
As if winning the national competition was not sweet enough, Alford was also named in the Australian Country Under-21 team.