The welcome mat has been rolled out to six countries as hockey pushes ahead with its bid to host training camps in Warrnambool ahead of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Invites have gone out to Canada, Wales, Scotland, South Africa, Malaysia and Pakistan with Hockey Australia writing to the national hockey bodies in those countries.
Warrnambool Hockey Association president Paul Dillon said it was a really positive step, and Warrnambool was listed at the top of the options for countries to consider.
"Basically Hockey Australia are saying we would like you to consider basing yourself for a training camp in Warrnambool, Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong in the lead-up to 2026," he said.
The idea to approach the countries was raised just two weeks ago when Hockey Victoria's chief executive officer Andrew Skillern visited Warrnambool, and already the letters have gone out.
"We're all really impressed that Victoria has stepped up following that meeting in Warrnambool and delivered on a few key things," he said.
Rather than send invites to the top hockey teams such as Australia and New Zealand and England who might want to train in Melbourne, Mr Dillon said they had selected the next tier of teams in the hope of attracting some interest.
Meanwhile, Mayor Vicki Jellie said the submission date for expressions of interest was last week extended from June 17 to July 31 which gives Warrnambool's Commonwealth Games working group more time to prepare its case to host events.
The marathon and hockey training games are at the top of the city's wish list, but other sports have shown interest including shooting and basketball.
"It gives us more time. Our initial group that we pulled together has morphed and grown as we knew it would," Cr Jellie said. "It's going along really well."
Cr Jellie said the working group had had zoom meetings with peak sporting bodies and discussions about cultural events had also taken place with Eastern Maar representatives also part of the Warrnambool City Council-led working group.
The city council's draft budget includes a $600,000 allocation for a new hockey pitch. But the hockey association hopes to attract more money through state and commonwealth infrastructure grants and philanthropic trusts to bring the pitch up to international standard.
They also have plans to upgrade the pavilion to a two-storey facility with sheltered viewing deck for spectators, and lighting upgrades.
"If we smash it out of the park as an organisation...maybe we could even pinch one or two games off Geelong," Mr Dillon said.
He said Hockey Australia and Hockey Victoria were also doing a joint bid to host the 2026 women's world cup in regional Victoria, and Warrnambool had been asked to send a letter of support for the bid while making the city's facilities available as a training base for international teams in the lead up to the cup.
Warrnambool Hockey Association hopes to fast-track its project plan for a potential new hockey centre and have it completed by June followed by a masterplan in September.
"We're putting money in to start the process to get the new hockey centre shovel ready," Mr Dillon said.
"We're going to keep building on the momentum to get stakeholders really excited.
"We need to take this from being an abstract idea to having something people can see and get excited about and back it."
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