Hockey is a lifetime sport

Noreen Walton with daughter Sarah and granddaughters are Mia and Emily.

By Tania Phillips

Hockey is a family sport – go to any local turf during a winter weekend and you could see up to three generations of one family taking to the field during the day.

Noreen Walton and many other players, it’s sport they take up as young children and are still playing when their grandchildren come along.

“I actually started late when I was about 10, we moved to Cairns, everyone in Cairns played hockey,” she said.

“So, I’ve been playing since I was 10 – I’m 62 so I’ve been playing a little while,” Noreen added laughing infectiously.

“Hopefully I will represent Queensland and Australia in the masters again this year. I’ve represented Australia with Masters (what back then was called Veterans) since 1996. I play in the Brisbane competition which is Div. Four or ML1 in the Metro league. I coach as well.

“I’m in the over 60s Australian team, I was last picked to represent Australia last in the World Cup but of course Covid hit – that would have been my fifth master’s Cup. That’s alright hopefully there will be another one in my soon if I get selected again, I will continue to play.”

Her preference it to be in the midfield, but she joked that she’d play anywhere to get on the field.

“I will play striker as well – anywhere but goalkeeper,” she laughed.

“It’s a bit scary back there.”

För Noreen playing the sport that she loves is made all that sweeter by the comradery that has been built up over the years.

“The friendships that you build over the years – its incredible,” she said.

“You see somebody who you might not have seen for a couple of years and it’s just as if you saw them yesterday. For example, I played for Victoria in a recent tournament, I’d played with some of the girls before but that was seven or eight years ago, but it was just wonderful it was just as if we’d seen each other yesterday.

“I guess it’s that common interest but it’s very special.”

Noreen’s next major tournament will be the State Titles where she will play for Brisbane with a chance of making another Queensland team.

“I’m hoping to play well enough to be selected but you just never know, there is always just somebody that may be better, but I’m hoping to make the Queensland team for National which will be held in Cairns this time- my old hometown, which would be nice,” she said.

“But you never know – it’s the luck of it sometimes, how you play.

“We were probably really fortunate in Queensland, while we have had disruption, this year touchwood so far, we’ve managed to play most of it. We had a shortened season last year and the season before we had 13 games, so it was a short season. But we were lucky – the girls from Victoria had played less than five games in two years. So, we’ve been really really lucky. But it’s always interesting from a team perspective at the moment to see who is in and who’s out with Covid. But we’re getting through it.”

Hockey has fields dotted around the city with a synthetic turf at UQ, with the State Hockey Centre at Colmslie, a field at Easts, one at Redcliff and two at Chermside.

“So, there is a variety of different areas, it depends on the draw as to where we play each week but for those looking, it is quite easy to find a team,” she said.

“Most of the grounds are pretty close in Brisbane – with the exception of Redcliffe – so there is plenty of opportunity.

“Hockey is a lot of fun, even if you haven’t picked up a stick for 20 years, we’ve got players at our club this year that just want to come back and play -hadn’t picked up for that long. We always have a team and there’s also a grass competition as well at Downey Park for anyone who doesn’t want to play on turf. Its in a central area same area each week on a Saturday with the grass – consistency is good for some people.

“There is always an option for some one to play and they say that master’s sports will continue to increase – its huge as far as the number of people playing and it’s good for your mental and physical health. Just that ability to get out and have a game and get those frustrations of the week out.”

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