THE international stage awaits local hockey star Jacob Vagg early next year.
The 18 year-old from Camperdown recently earned a call-up to the Under 21 Australian Country team that is set to tour Malaysia in January.
A member of Ballarat-based WestVic Hockey Club, Vagg earned selection after playing in WestVic’s Vic League 1 firsts and reserves teams.
A defensive midfielder, Vagg played eight firsts games early in the season but was in and out of the side before he eventually found his place in the reserves.
Once settled, he helped the reserves reach the grand final but his team lost the decider 4-3 to Yarra Valley.
His performances throughout the season also caught the eye of Vic Country scouts, who invited him to train with the squad earlier in the year.
It was through this training that Vagg eventually came into contention for the Australian Country side having initially missed selection for the squad.
But a stroke of good luck saw him lifted into the side following the withdrawal of another player.
“Normally you go through a tournament process but one of the team members (that was originally picked) pulled out,” Vagg said.
“The four coaches came together (following the withdrawal) and my name was at the top of the list.
“It’s a huge privilege and a great opportunity to be selected and it’s a big step (forward) in my game because it’s something new to me and something I’ve never done before.”
Vagg’s selection will be the first time he has represented his country.
He said he wanted to use the experience to hone his game.
“It’s a huge honour to be given the opportunity to wear our (country’s) colours,” he said.
“I hope to get some wins over there but also to gain plenty of personal development playing a much higher level over there than I’m used to.”
The step up to the international level is going to be one of many surprises for Vagg.
He said he did not know too much about what to expect before he heads over there, although some advice from a team-mate has given him some idea.
“One of my mates, Lachlan Hansford, played in the same team last year and he said it’s a lot quicker to what we play back here because we play together,” Vagg said.
“He said it was a lot quicker and they’re a lot bigger so everything is going to be next level I guess.”
Nonetheless Vagg said he believes he is ready for the challenge international hockey presents.
“It’ll be a challenge at the start but I feel I got picked for a reason so that will give me confidence when I get over there,” he said.
“I’m comfortable adapting to the higher level.”
If he does find it difficult, he will have plenty of familiar faces to go to for guidance.
He will tour with Hansford and a couple of other players he knows from his home club WestVic and from playing for Vic Country.
“There’s a couple of others there that I did a little bit of training with at Vic Country earlier in the season,” Vagg said.
“It’ll make everything easier and make me more comfortable when I get over there, especially having played with them the last few years.”
In Malaysia, the Australian Country team will play eight games against local teams including SS Sukma and SS Sabah Sports.
Vagg said between games and training sessions, the team would visit the sites of the Asian country.
“I know we do a lot of tourist stuff as well as play games over there,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to getting over there and experience a different country and culture.”
Vagg’s parents Sharon and Ian will join him on the trip.