PLAYING in South Africa for the first time will provide important stepping stones for two of the Ipswich region's most exciting hockey teenagers.
Zac Profke, 16, and Talicia Canty, 14, have just been selected in Australian school teams heading overseas next year.
The Ipswich hockey competition A Grade regulars achieved their latest success representing Queensland at the Pacific School Games in Adelaide.
After sharing in Queensland's grand final wins in the boys and girls competitions, Profke and Canty were rewarded with their first national honours.
The Australian tour is set down for June.
"I've got a few mates that went last year and they said they really enjoyed it,'' Profke said.
"It's another step higher.''
With year 12 ahead of him in 2018, Profke said his Australian selection was good timing.
"I've never been overseas,'' he said.
Yamanto allrounder Profke has just finished Year 11 at St Edmund's College with Karana Downs teenager Canty having completed her ninth year of schooling at West Moreton Anglican College.
"It's a great opportunity,'' Canty said of her national honour. "It's the first time I can represent Australia.''
After both players had made junior state teams in club hockey this year, the latest Pacific School Games gave them a chance to complete what's been fantastic years for them.
Along with his state achievements as a player and umpire in hockey, Profke has been chosen in the Queensland under 18 indoor hockey team heading to Goulburn for next month's nationals.
Having shared in Wests' 8-1 A Grade grand final triumph this year, Canty has also gained state selection in indoor hockey. She's off to Goulburn with the Queensland under 15 side.
"It's been a good season,'' Canty said, enjoying her indoor hockey too.
"I think it's really good for my outdoor because you get more touches on the ball in indoor and it's a faster game. It keeps you fit in the off-season.''
Profke said the Queensland boys team started slowly at the Pacific School Games before peaking at the perfect time.
Queensland held out NSW 2-0 in the final "after they smoked us 4-0 the day before (in the last qualifying match),'' Profke said.
Profke was switched to a defensive role despite being one of the Ipswich competition's leading goal scorers this season.
The Norths A Grader still scored 10 goals through strokes and seven penalty corners during the week-long series.
Playing halfback, Canty was also delighted how the Queensland girls performed beating NSW 2-1 after shootouts in the final.
Like the boys, the Queensland girls also lost to NSW in the round games before exacting revenge in the gold medal match.
Profke and Canty were waiting on the final schedule for South Africa.
However, they expect to play Test matches and practice games along with training as part of the beneficial tour.
Wests' A Grade teammates Gabby Nicholls and Emily Witheyman- Crump toured Europe earlier this year with the Australian Schoolgirls team.
"I talked to Gabby at training and she's really excited for me,'' Canty said. "She said it's the best time.''
Canty said working with Wests' former international Amy Kickbusch (nee Korner) also helped her this season.
"She's a really good player and she had really good advice for everyone in the team,'' Canty said.
More than 4000 students participated in the latest 10th Pacific School Games, which featured players from eight countries in a range of sports.