The Hockey Australia Masters’ Women’s National Championships starts on the Gold Coast today, and will feature matches played by 39 teams from around Australia.
The event, which will be held at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre on Musgrave Ave in Labrador, and at the Nicki Hudson Hockey Centre in Runaway Bay, runs from September 26 until October 5.
Tournament director Sonya Fisher said the event had a lot of history, and said it was important that the championships lived up to its reputation and continued to build a legacy.
“The first event was held in 1985 and it was called Inaugural Australian Women’s Veterans Championships,” Ms Fisher said.
“Players were so keen to continue the concept of veterans hockey that a motion passed at a dinner many years ago to make the tournament an annual event,” she said.
“Victoria offered to host the second tournament and to invite participants from every state.”
“The response was so overwhelming, that in 2011 there was a name change to the Australian Women’s Masters National Championships and [the event] was recognised internationally.”
Ms Fisher said there were 39 teams participating in the championships, taken from every state in Australia, with between 15 and 18 players per side.
She said the teams were broken down into seven age groups, with teams in the over 35, over 40, over 45, over 50, over 55, over 60 and over 65 age groups.
“This event is particularly importantly because World Masters Hockey is holding Masters World Cups in 2020 in two countries, England and South Africa,” Ms Fisher said.
“So, there will be a lot of competition at this championships for spots in the Australian teams to be selected,” she said.
The first World Masters Hockey tournament will be held in Nottingham, England, on August 3, 2020, for over 35s and over 40s.
The over 45s, over 50s, over 55s, over 60s and over 65s tournament will be held in Capetown, South Africa, and begins on September 14, 2020.
Hockey Australia Masters committee member Rae Dunn said generally all states in Australia participated in the Australia Women’s Maters National Championships, but said neither Tasmania nor the Northern Territory participated last year.
“We are pleased to see Tasmania return for the 2019 Championship,” Ms Dunn said.
“Masters Hockey is the fastest growing segment within hockey, and the World Cups have grown to a record size of over 2000 male and female players at the 2018 Exin Masters World Cup in Terassa, Spain,” she said.
Ms Dunn said the Hockey Australia Masters’ Women’s National Championships was so much more than just the on-field competition.
“There were a few ladies at the 2018 championship that played at every championship since 1984, which is 35 years of competing at this level,” she said.
“So, this championship is also very much about the friendships, old and the new,” Ms Dunn said.
“While continuing to play a game many of these women have played for 30 to 65 years, yes, we still have ladies playing in their 70s, so it truly epitomises the phrase for the love of the game.”
For more information about the Australia Women’s Masters National Championship, visit www.australianmastershockey.com