Ipswich teenager's European goal
HAVING enjoyed the best year of his sporting life, multi-talented Cade Banditt wants to play in Europe.
Possible changes to the National Futures squad and the Queensland Academy of Sport have left the Ipswich achiever waiting to see what higher level representative opportunities are available next year.
However, the state under-18 and under-21 hockey goalkeeper is already planning ahead.
Having recently graduated from St Edmund's College, the busy teenager is considering a stint of semi-professional hockey overseas.
"I want to travel. I want to go to Europe next year and play hockey over there,'' he said.
"Hopefully I get picked up by a club over there and possibly have the opportunity to coach a side.
"I love coaching.''
He's already been helping with goalkeeping clinics, including working with young players at this year's under-15 state titles Mackay.
The Kholo teenager has been chatting to former Hancock Brothers international player Jake Burns who has successfully played and coached overseas.
Banditt has worked with Burns in recent years at Ipswich club level.
"He's given me advice . . . to contact him when I decide what dates I want to leave,'' Banditt said.
Banditt, 18, was recently a finalist in the prestigious Sporting Excellence category at the 2015/16 City of Ipswich Sports awards.
That capped his remarkable year where he was chosen in the Australian Futures squad for a tri-series against New Zealand and Japan.
He represented Queensland at the under-18 nationals in Tasmania and lined up for the Northern Territory at the under-21 Australian championships in Sydney.
In such high demand, the Queensland Schoolboys under-19 captain had to withdraw from this year's tour to New Zealand because it clashed with national titles in Australia.
With the Junior World Cup in the spotlight, there hasn't been any recent opportunities for players earlier named in Hockey Australia's Futures squad.
Banditt said the elite QAS hockey program could also be adjusted next year, coming under Hockey Queensland's control.
"At the moment it's a bit unexplained what is going to happen,'' the Ipswich Hancocks and Brisbane Valleys Division 1 player said.
"But we're still doing coaching with the players that have been selected.
"Hockey is changing probably for the better. It's getting more professional and it's going to be more run on its own. It's getting bigger and better every year.''
Banditt gains confidence knowing he has been identified as a potential international player of the future.
As he waits to hear more, the talented hockey player and cricketer has plenty to keep him focused.
The sporting all-rounder has added a third major sport to his representative focus. He was recently chosen in the Queensland under-18 indoor hockey team for next month's national championships in Wollongong.
"The reason why I play indoor hockey is essentially it just keeps me fit,'' Banditt said, having also made a state representative team two years earlier.
"I don't really have an off-season as such.''
Apart from the enjoyment of playing indoor hockey, Banditt has learnt new skills.
"They are actually two different games and two different styles of goalkeeping,'' he said.
"I really have to adapt to the conditions of indoor.''
With his outdoor and indoor hockey representative commitments keeping him on the move, Banditt has scaled back his time playing cricket.
However, he's enjoying playing for Swifts when he can this season.
Teenager keeping options open
While sport has always been important to Cade Banditt, so has his schooling.
That's why the level-headed teenager is keeping his options open.
As he ponders more international hockey opportunities in the future, Banditt has applied to study law or education at university next year.
"They are two different pathways but they are interesting,'' he said.
"Now I don't have the pressure of school and the time limit of assignments, I can focus full-time on my sports for the year to come and try and take uni at my own pace.''
As he reflects on another massive year, he finds it hard to single out one special moment.
"I've got no regrets this year,'' he said.
"I love my schooling life but I've always had a healthy balance with sport and socially.
"I've really loved this year.
"This year has probably been one of the highlights of my life.''
The well-spoken young man bypassed recent Schoolies events to celebrate his graduation during a nine-day holiday in the US.
"I've got the travel bug in me. I love it,'' he said, having already planned around Australia through hockey.