Sharing skills with next generation keeps veteran on field
NOW just an admitted year-to-year prospect, the love of the game and the desire to impart his hockey wisdom to the next generation, as well as a burning competitive streak, are what keeps Jason Burns coming back each weekend.
The wily Sparks player, who has wielded his sticks for about 30 years in places as diverse as Western Australia, Mount Isa and England, admitted the opportunity to teach young players what his career had taught him was a major factor in his not quite being able to hang up his hockey bag just yet.
"We just haven't got enough young fellas coming through, that's the reason I'm playing," Burns said.
"I'm a year-in, year-out sort of thing and as long as I'm still enjoying it, well that's that main thing."
The 43-year-old says his legs may have lost a yard or two of pace, but his direction and presence on the field are what makes Burns integral in the Sparks top team.
"I've played state schoolboys and state under-18s and now even state veterans," Burns said laughingly.
"I'm just trying to feed off the young players and direct them; what I lack in speed I try to make up for with talk."
He said it was equally important to instil his passion for the game, and for the challenge of sporting competition itself, into the next generation of Sparks stars.
"That (competitive streak) comes from when I was a young fella. It's definitely the way I was brought up," he said.
A boilermaker by trade, born and bred Gladstonian Burns, who works with QCLNG apprentices, remains a vital cog in a Sparks machine, which is now tweaking its playing system, as well as blooding fresh talent.