Birthday boy thrives in hot international conditions
PLAYING in tropical jungle conditions, being exposed to international opposition and learning about power plays.
Ipswich hockey goalkeeper Cade Banditt is experiencing it all and he's just turned 20.
Banditt celebrated his latest birthday yesterday after representing the Queensland Blades in his first national league game of the latest series.
He had days earlier just flown back from Malaysia.
It's been an eventful and beneficial time for one of the city's most talented sportsmen.
On Saturday night, Banditt rejoined the Queensland team that lost 5-1 to the Tassie Tigers.
It was an exciting Australian Hockey League (AHL) game where Tasmania took advantage of the new extra goal rules.
However, as he waited to see if he was selected for this week-end's AHL quarter-finals, Banditt was delighted with his latest overseas opportunity.
The former Hancock Brothers A-Grade regular and St Edmund's College student represented the Australian Burras under-21 side for the first time.
Banditt played in every game at the Sultan of Johor Cup tournament, featuring some of the world's most promising young hockey players.
As Banditt proudly declared, Australia received some valuable lessons on their way to winning the bronze medal match 6-1 over Japan.
After a surprise opening round 2-1 loss to Japan, Australia beat host country Malaysia 6-1 before drawing 2-2 with Great Britain and losing 5-4 to India.
A 4-0 win over New Zealand and Great Britain's victory over India left the Aussies in the consolation final.
Banditt said recovering to beat Japan in that bronze medal match was satisfying after their early defeat to the same team.
"It was a very even tournament,'' Banditt said.
"There wasn't any run-over teams.
"The bronze medal match was really good.
"We learnt from our mistakes in our first game.
"It was a real credit to the team which put us into that position in order to win the game.
"We did our study, we did our homework, did our match reviews, videos and backed up and got the result, which is really good and promising for the future.''
Having made his AHL debut for Queensland last year, Banditt was keen to continue his hockey development.
He said playing in tough conditions against professional athletes at an elite level was a timely boost for him.
"Being exposed to the international scene was really good,'' he said. "Learning the way other countries play and learning different structures and styles was really beneficial.
"It exposed me to different ways to play the game and helps me coming back to Australia.''
Coping with Malaysia's stinging heat and humidity was another test he won't forget in a hurry.
"It was probably the hardest thing I've ever played in, in my life,'' the hockey player of the future said.
"It was close to 40 degrees with maximum humidity.
"The field is basically built within a tropical jungle.''
The Ipswich talent only arrived home last weekend before having to refocus on Queensland's latest AHL game.
"I missed the first two games of AHL due to my representative commitments with Australia under-21s,'' he said.
But Banditt had plenty of representative honours to reflect on having just turned 20.
He enjoyed his birthday catching up with friends and with a family dinner.