VIXENSPORTS AND HOCKEY
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Hockeyroos year so far!
It has been a while since I last blogged for VixenSports because the Olympic year is upon us and it is as crazy as ever!
Our first tournament of the year was in Singapore. We are extremely lucky to be sponsored by The Project Group this year- A company based in Singapore and run by hockey enthusiast and business man Paul Rim. Paul single handedly brought three teams to Singapore for a tri nations tournament so that the Singaporean national players could witness international hockey. The average age of the Singapore team is 19 and they rarely play top tier teams because they do not have the depth or opportunity that other nations such as Australia have to play hockey. It was very generous of Paul to give these girls an opportunity to be liaisons for the tournament as well as looking after all three teams at once. On this tour the team and I were filmed by Red Bull who will be putting out an editorial piece on what it is like to be a Hockeyroo, I cannot wait to share with everyone what the final product will be.
Since then we have had a series against Great Britain where we rolled our whole squad through and still won the series, despite the inexperience of many. We played a few of these games in Bunbury, just south of Perth. It is so nice to go to more regional areas as we get a huge response from the community and great crowds.
China is here next week and the week after that a team will be selected for New Zealand. This will be when the squad is narrowed leading into the Olympics and a crucial time for everyone. As I said it is a huge year with lots of pressure for all positions, but this is expected if you are training for a gold medal.
This weekend I am off to the Nike NTC tour in Sydney where I will be training with hundreds of girls to get fit and active. From here I will head to the Formula 1 other Red Bull athletes before being back in Perth for training Monday. Crazy, stressful, and fun times ahead. Follow the Hockeyroos journey and myself via social media!
Wow what a big few weeks for the Hockeyroos. We qualified for Rio and are currently enjoying our last big break before the Olympics. I can’t believe it is already upon us.. And yet it has also been a long time coming.
We finished third at our most recent tournament in Belgium, where we did not perform our best until the last game and therefore did not achieve the result we were after. However, the focus is of course on the Olympic Games and it is now a race between the teams for who can improve the most over this next period.
Over the break I have been enjoying some time in Sydney with the wonderful people at Redbull, promoting hockey and women’s sport to the mainstay of media in Sydney. It is an exciting time for females with so many amazing athletes doing well, such as my Redbull team mates Jess Fox, Jordan Mercer and Sally Fitzgibbon… With the great achievements of some of these women Australia is seeing more females in the media leading the way to encourage a healthy and fit life. Although there is a large gap between genders in the media still, it is great to recognise the achievements of any Aussie athlete and with so many talented females we as Hockeyroos hope to join these medal winning talents.
In 2 weeks I join the team again and our preparation kicks into gear. It will be a rough ride but nothing worth having comes easy!
Count Down in Holland
We have only five games left in the season and my first experience of the Dutchcompetition. We have had a tough start to the second round and will need to be more disciplined in our structure and basic skills to finish off well. It will be an interesting final few games as we need the points to stay outside of relegation matches, and potentially another month stay in Holland.
I was very lucky that my dad came to visit me whilst here and catch three of our matches. We visited, Maastricht, Tilburg, Utrecht and Oisterwijk. All unique towns with amazing history and architecture, it was nice to show dad around where I have been living for the past 7 months. I also insisted he try all Dutchcuisine- bitterballs, stroop waffles and freikendel. He might have to do a bit more exercise after his trip here now.
It has been a long process but I am happy to announce that I have signed with Redbull Australia and got officially welcomed to the team last weekend by the Dutch Redbull crew! I had dinner in Amsterdam with the staff, a daredevil; wakeboarder, snowboarder and BMX rider. I think the highlight was when one of the guys spoke about how dangerous hockey was…. Seriously? I was sitting next to a guy with a broken heel and fake teeth… and they thought hockey was dangerous, ha. Anyway I have other exciting things coming up that I cannot wait to announce and am hopeful it improves the profile of hockey and women’s sport around the world.
This weekend we have two games that are really important for our standing on the ladder. We want to finish off the season on a high and show the competitors that we can be a threat if we play how we know we can!
Champions TrophyWhat a year for the Hockeyroos!We finished with a silver medal at the Champions Trophy narrowly losing toArgentina in the final shootouts. It was heartbreakingly close right up to the lastminute- but a fitting end for Argentinian captain and 8 time best player in theworld Luciana Aymar who retires this year. A superstar in the hockey world andSouth America- she had unrivaled skill, speed and creativity. She was a toughcompetitor, who no matter how many people marked her, could still beat 5 andscore a goal. Thousands will miss her, both fans and players a like and we saythank you to a legend that we had the honour of playing against.
We are proud of our silver medal in this competition, we took a new look teamwith our experienced players taking some rest, and they stepped up to theinternational stage when it mattered. A gold at Commonwealth Games inshootouts, silver at the World Cup, we have well and truly showed the world thatwe are a force to be reckoned with as we chase the goal medal dream in Rio.
It is always a crazy experience playing in Argentina; the fans are passionate and treat the players like heroes. Last year in Tucuman we were overwhelmed by thesupport we received here but love how they welcome us like their own. We nowhave 2 weeks off everything before starting our intensive pre season program.We will then go into gym, running, and all the extras to get us physically ready forthe year. I am looking forward to getting to the beach after being in Holland andGlasgow this year- the sun is calling me! I will also see my family for the longesttime over Christmas since I moved out of home 4 years ago.
After a successful year I am honored to be nominated with our keeper RachelLynch for the World Rising Star award in hockey, and you can vote for me or whoyou think are the best in the world here: https://www.facebook.com/fihockey?v=app_629714627080217&app_data=gaReferrerOverride%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.facebook.com%252F
Would love your support!!
Next international event for us is the World League 3 next year! We will havecamps in Perth and new players will get a chance as well as some of us finishingoff the season in Holland with our club teams. It is set to be another good year forthe ROOVOLUTION!
It has been a while since my last post- the last 2 months of study, hockey, Hollandand work have forced me to put my blogging on a bit of a back burner…However,today was a great day. I handed in my last EVER assignment and will walk awaywith a postgraduate diploma in legal studies to go along with my bachelor degreein Journalism.
So what has been happening in my hockey world… well I finished off the first halfof the club season in Holland with a win over fellow Hockeyroo Casey Sablowski(nee Eastham). I much prefer playing on her team than against her, she wasn notnamed the best Hockeyroo of 2014 for no reason!
A few days later it was time for us to say goodbye to our Holland adventure tomeet up with the Australian team in Argentina, where we are competing in theChampions Trophy. The competition sees the eight best teams in the world go upagainst each other in 2 pools. We face England, Germany and Argentina in ourpool, with world number one Holland and one of our biggest rivals New Zealandin the other pool.
It has been so nice seeing and training with the girls again after an extendedperiod away, spending everyday with each other norally, it is not until I left did Irealize how much I miss the team, staff and country. In saying that, I have met somany amazing people in Holland and the girls in my team have been sowelcoming, so also looking forward to joining them again next year.
The hockey style is so different from Holland to Australia, so the first fewtrainings Casey and I were getting back used to our game and tactics, as opposedto those in our Dutch teams.
We are playing in Mendoza, the last tournament we played here was the first ofour coach Adam Commens and his support staff, which we won, and where I alsobroke my finger that to this day had a plate and six screws still in it. At that stage,in 2011, we were ranked 7th, and saw some darker days in Australian women’shockey. Now currently ranked 2nd after two successful years of competition-highlighted by our World Cup silver medal and Commonwealth games gold, weare chasing that number one position in the world.
Playing in Argentina is always an exciting experience because it is one of thecountries biggest sports. The crowds are passionate and welcoming and we findourselves at home here. We played in Tucuman (Argentina) World League at theend of last year and had an amazing response from the people.
It gets over 35 degrees in the day, a little different from the 7 degrees I have beentraining in in Holland! Ice vests are out for substitutions and breaks and ice bathslike always for recovery after the game. Already we have had a few girls sick here,the different food, water and climate mean we have to be really careful with whatwe put in our bodies, and to make sure if someone gets sick it doesn’t spread tothe whole group.
With two days to go until Competition we have time to rest and mentally preparefor the games ahead. We have a younger team and it will be a test without someof our more experienced players. I cannot wait to play in Green and Gold againand finish this successful year off with a bang!
11 Seconds. That is all that stood between us being crowned as the biggest chokers of the Commonwealth Games and heading into penalty shootouts. We had enough chances over the 69 minutes before the siren, but it was England who took their opportunity and put us 1-nil down on the scoreboard.
We got a corner after the siren. I stood up to take the flick, aiming low right on the keeper. She saved it and it rebounded out to Jodie Kenny who threaded the ball into the opposite corner. The feeling of relief was immense; we had been in this situation before and were confident in our goalie Rachel Lynch to save the day.
She did just that, and it was up to our captain Madonna Blyth to take the winning shot and bring home the gold. When she slipped the ball past the keeper it is a emotion you can never match. Running at her as fast we could into a huddle of happiness, relief, tears, joy and pride.
Our tournament was dominant. We put teams away easily that we were unable to do years previously. In particular are 9-1 win over quality opposition such as Scotland with a home crowd advantage.
Our game finished into the late hours of the night, where everyone back in Australia either got up at 5am to watch or woke up to the good news. Georgia Nanscawen and I were whisked off after the medal ceremony to sit on the Channel Ten couches with Leisel Jones and Matt White. We could not stop smiling the whole interview, still in shock at the events of the game.
We celebrated that evening with our friends, family, staff and coaches and sung ‘We are one’ proudly at the top of our lungs. These Commonwealth Games will never be forgotten and is a credit to the preparation of our team and program.
Backing up from a successful but mentally draining world cup would always be a tough ask. But we are on a path of aiming for continual improvement in all areas of game.
We currently have two weeks away from official commitments, with many people taking the chance to go back to their home states or do some travelling with loved ones- quick mention to Ashleigh Nelson and Rachel Lynch who are doing the Kokoda track to raise money for RUOK day on their break- check out their social media to donate to the cause!
I head to Holland after a holiday this week where I will be playing a season in their national competition for the team MOP. It will be another challenge learning their style of play, being guided by drag flicking specialist Toon Siepman, as well as trying to learn the language and finish my postgraduate studies.
Commonwealth Games – Glasgow
Courtesy of Anna Flanagan – FB
We boarded a late flight from Perth to be welcomed at Glasgow by a group of young dances from Britain’s got talent. Wearing kilts with a bagpipe player doing his thing as we collected our bags, this was the moment it hit- we had arrived at the Commonwealth Games.
We had the afternoon to explore the village and get our bearings. Our apartments have rooms of two and we share a bathroom between four. We had one mishap early whereby Kellie White found herself locked in the bathroom and our Manager Ben Tarbox had to ‘break down the door’… not sure the maintenance team were too happy about that one, Kellie on the other hand was very grateful to be rescued.
The village is like another world, free food and drinks and everything open 24 hours. The tallest of the tall, biggest of the big, fittest of the fit and tiny people who do not look like they are old enough… Really it’s a freak show. A bunch of athletes who physically are fit for their sport. Some you can guess by body type, others you try pick from the accreditation hanging around their neck.
Our accreditation is more important than we are, so we have been told. It is our passport to the games and must be worn at all times throughout the competition. With a mug shot and a barcode it is how you get into the village and any of the venues.. Such as the infamous food hall, the best people watching area in the place.
Every cuisine from salad selections to chocolate-coated waffles. An amazing, yet dangerous place where you try keep to your normal routine as much as possible, even with the cake selection calling your name.
The recreation center is equally as entertaining with the options of playing FIFA, which I have no idea how to play, but have come to the conclusion that every guy is obsessed with it! Also pool, foosball, air hockey, mini golf and pinball… not to mention the TV’s set up everywhere that will be playing endless amounts of sport.
We have a little pass on our accreditation that you swipe on the drink machines and get PowerAde, water, coke Etc. whenever you wish. The massage center, gym and physio are all situated in the same area and available to all athletes and staff when needed.
Just past the village living area is the international section. This includes a souvenir shop, beautician- get your nails done in country colours, hair cut, make up done or even a spray tan… all free! There is also a café and bar which athletes may hit up after their event to celebrate or potentially drown some sorrows.
We checked out the venue and are very impressed with the field. Both our trainings were standard Scottish rain, if this is summer I am slightly scared of their winter but still a beautiful place regardless. We have two practice games against India and New Zealand before we begin and after our success at World Cup can’t wait to again show the world what we can do!
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World Cup: ROOVOLUTION
WHAT A TRIP. 5 weeks. 12 games. 3 countries. 1 million fans. 2nd place.
To say Holland knows how to run a tournament is an understatement. Sold out everyday, the atmosphere is the best we have played in and it didn’t matter it was a sea of orange- the Dutch just love their hockey! It has been 18 months in the making preparing for this tournament. We sat down as a group and said we wanted to make the final and we wanted a podium finish. At this point we were ranked 6th in the world so knew it was going to be no easy feat to close the gap of the teams in front of us.
Every game was a battle, we never had an easy win, and we never felt safe, and that is how equal international hockey has become! The difference between a team coming second and a team coming 9th may only be one goal.
We started our trip in Germany with a four nations win, which sent a warning to those at the tournament we were in good form. From there we had a few days completely off hockey in Antwerp, Belgium. For such a long trip it was really important that we went into the World Cup mentally refreshed and not over hockey before it even started. It gave the girls a chance to get our nails done, have a massage and a little bit of retail therapy- how girly of us!
I remember thinking that we had already been there a while and we hadn’t actually got to the main event yet, next thing we knew we blinked and our time off was over.
We arrived in Holland and The Hague by bus and the town was decked out in posters of the upcoming event with the nerves started to kick in. Our hotel was right in the city and we shared it with the men and women’s German teams. This later provided us with some off field entertainment when we had a look on their level and discovered they had ping pong table… which we later stole and brought down to our level ending in a game of round the world Australia versus Germany. Hours later the ping-pong table disappeared so the fun was short lived.
The stadium we played at was the best I have ever seen, 15 thousand screaming fans, singing, dancing, doing the slow motion Mexican wave- hockey how it should be! Outside the stadium was like a mini hockey village with all the different brands in marques, food stalls and interactive games, not to mention the large stalk mascot ‘Stokey’ running amok everywhere.
It was a nail biting event right up until we got into the final against Holland- the men also making the final but smashing every team convincingly as they do. At the time of losing the final 2-0 it was gut wrenching and disappointing, but in hindsight we have come so far as a group and still have so much to improve on. The men showed why they are number one in the world and continue to inspire us every game they play. So it is with this confidence we head into the Commonwealth Games. Second in the world, defending champions and favorites. It is a huge amount of pressure to back up our performances and will take a lot of hard work, skill and determination. With the likes of New Zealand, South Africa and England we will need to keep improving and show our talents. The ‘Roovolution’ has well and truly began.
World Cup Preparation:
It has been a big few weeks for the Hockeyroos with 11 international games of hockey over the previous month! After our trip to Kalgoorlie bolder in WA we played a Japan series in Perth before flying to New Zealand for a 6 nations tournament.
We had a 5-0 game sweep over Japan in the home series and ended up coming second to Argentina in NZ. The tournament held in Hawkes Bay saw us playing many of the teams that will be in our pool at the World Cup in a few weeks.
Playing in NZ is always good for the families to come over being so close to Australia, and is nice for the girls to have some Aussie supporters in the crowd to brave the rain. We also had a few special milestones with Jodie Schulz and Rachel Lynch playing their 100th international game for the country.
I cannot believe how quick this year has gone with the team leaving for Holland and World Cup preparation in just 3 weeks time.
We had a good time in NZ as always and after a heavy schedule had a week of down time before getting back into hard training.
I decided to stay in Sydney and take advantage of some media opportunities as well as meeting some sponsors with my manager Daniel O’lloughlin. It can be hard for the team based in Perth to get over east and raise the profile of hockey and women’s sport, so the time spent there is always really valuable.
We are back into training heavily now for World Cup preparation, selection is being announced for the women tomorrow and the men yesterday. The tournament will see the men and women playing back to back at the same venue- where they have laid out a hockey field in a football stadium and it is already a sure sellout.
A benchmark tournament for both teams we have a busy few months ahead!
What a whirlwind our trip to Kalgoorlie was. We flew up on Wednesday night; a bit different to the seven-hour bus ride we embarked on from Perth last year.
As soon as we got off the AUSDRILL Hockeyroo bus we were treated to the amazing Kalgoorlie hospitality. A hearty home cooked meal was waiting for us at the Kalgoorlie pub, which was decorated in green and gold to make us feel right at home.
We were conveniently staying around the corner at the Quest hotel, although I am told most things in Kalgoorlie are walking distance anyway.
After breakfast we had our first hit out on their hockey field. With a big day ahead, it was nothing too strenuous, just getting the feel of a different pitch.
After our first training session we had a number of school groups come down to learn some new skills. We split the kids into their schools and each of us would go through something different with them before they moved onto the next. Not only do the kids enjoy it, but it is also an opportunity for us to learn how to coach varying skill levels.
We then had a more intense two-hour training session that afternoon and by the end of the day were ready for an early night. However, this was not before a small function where the Kalgoorlie council officially welcomed us to their town. Again the people were great, but I think we surprised the cooking staff by how much finger food we consumed… girls gotta eat!
It was rise and shine for Ashleigh Nelson and myself, as we went to host Kalgoorlie radio for half an hour and give a little insight into what we have on this year. This coincided with world poetry day so we also wrote a Hockeyroo poem.
We had another training session that morning before lunch with the Japan team and then it was time to rest up before the game that night.
We won 6-1 against an opponent whom would have been fairly tired considering they chose to take the overnight bus up the previous night! It was a good turn out and huge props went out to the WA Department of Sport and Recreation for allowing us to host the sanctioned international in regional WA.
The next morning a few of us went down and took the warm-up for the Kalgoorlie Parkrun, a free community 5km time trial. Over 200 people took park and hopefully some of our dynamic stretching before hand led to a few personal best times.
After we got back we had another coaching clinic for Hook into Hockey and with some of the town’s finest juniors before we went to lunch with our favorite major sponsor- AUSDRILL! It is always nice to mingle with a few of the workers and see what they get up to.
Our second game against Japan saw us wearing our pink bodysuits to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation. We have been Ambassadors for a number of years now but it is a very special moment being able to put on the pink and play for all those effected.
We came out with a 3-1 win as well as a special milestone for Georgie Parker’s 50th match for Australia.
After a successful Kalgoorlie series it was time for a bit of fun – a game of golf with the locals. We were split up into teams for a nine hole round of Ambrose, which most of us were thankful for because you all hit off from where the best ball lands. This was handy for some people like myself who preferred to hit it into the shrubbery where possible.
After lunch with our teams at the golf club, we bid everyone farewell in preparation for our flight back to Perth that night. It was a busy trip where we covered as much of the community as possible, played some good hockey, and hopefully get to do it all again next year!
This week we play our last matches in Australia against Japan before the World Cup in May – If you are in Perth, head on down to Perth Hockey Stadium on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday night to check it all out!
It has been a big couple of weeks of training for the Hockeyroos since returning from our South African tour. We started the year in a far better place, both physically and mentally, than the year before and gave ourselves a good base for the big year ahead.
We are currently in a heavy training phase, in the lead up to a Japan series in Kalgoorlie, regional WA, and a New Zealand tour in early April.
Last year we visited Kalgoorlie as part of our alliance with Ausdrill mining company, playing a charity match against some of their local stars as well as holding various coaching clinics and attending a fundraising breakfast. All up the community raised nine thousand dollars that went to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
The community spirit for this event was huge and we really appreciated all the support and the warm welcome from the people of Kalgoorlie. We were even lucky enough to get a small taste of the work they do in the mines with a very special guided tour.
It is with great pleasure that we return back to this wonderful community in the coming month, this time to play international matches in luau of World Cup selection.
Last weekend, five of the hockeyroo girls also went down to Narrogin to run two coaching clinics and have dinner with the kids and their parents. It was a huge success with 150 kids turning up across the two days to learn some new skills and techniques, as well as have a bit of laugh.
The next two weeks before we leave to Kalgoorlie we will be doing our strength and fitness testing, whereby there are a number of minimum standards that must be met to qualify for selection into these teams. We have been working really hard in the gym and on the track to try and get as many personal best’s in these areas as possible.
We can’t believe how quickly the year is moving with World Cup and Commonwealth Games quickly approaching as we try to close the gap on becoming world number one.
Anna’s latest shoot for her stick sponsor – GRAYS
The Hockeyroos- South African Tour 2014
(19th Jan-4th Feb)
2013 was a big year for the Hockeyroos- We started to climb back up world rankings with some major tournament wins finishing second in the penultimate competition of the year, the first ever World League. We are currently sitting at fourth in the world, just shy of England in third, despite having beaten them in the majority of our matches played over the past two years.
It is with this confidence that we head into our first tour of the year to South Africa. We have three games against the home side in Cape Town, before heading to Stellenbosch to take on the world champion Dutch outfit for another three matches.
Last year we came into this tournament under-prepared on the back of the Christmas break and are looking for a very different outcome in 2014. The whole twenty-two man squad will be heading over to train and play, with all those not in the test matches playing small games against the players from the other teams who are not playing. Joining the squad will also be Emily Hurtz from the development group and junior player Mariah Williams.