Hockey couple lead a love of the sport

Rockhampton Hockey stalwarts Ryan and Barbara Knowles

By Tania Phillips

Ryan and Barbara Knowles love their hockey, it’s given them a life of friends, family and even allowed them to travel.

The Rockhampton hockey stalwarts, who have been heavily involved in the sport for years, passing on that love to their four children and now their grandchildren.

“Our son Mark was the youngest Australian (hockey player) to win a gold medal for Australia and we’ve obviously only won one medal,” Ryan said.

“Mark has been to four Olympics and four Commonwealth Games so he’s basically won everything he could win – the IPLs and the Dutch League, Champions Trophies, the Olympics and things like that.

“We’ve basically followed him around the World for 14 years watching him. He carried the flag at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, won a gold medal and retired.”

Mark is still involved in the sport, now working in development for hockey Australia. You could say his involvement has kept his parents in the sport – though their love of hockey predates having children.

“Born in 55 I’m 67 – we move to the Central West in Qld where dad was working and we came back to Rockhampton in 1963 in 1964 that’s roughly when I started playing,” he said.

“I started playing for the club, that I’ve played for continuously ever since, in 1967 – I’m a life member and was president for 13 years.

“Southern Suburbs was formed in 1966 and I started playing with that club in 1967. I played right though – a lot of senior years and obviously I’m still playing today.”

He has played for Queensland and Australia at a Masters level and is still very much enjoying playing each week as well as just recently taking part in a Masters tournament in Rockhampton in May.

So why are he and Barbara still involved?

“It’s a family sport that you can play from four years of age – our grandkids are playing in Brisbane Marks got three children and they all play,” Ryan explained.

“We’ve got four children and they’ve all played hockey, our eldest daughter – her eldest son plays the sport with me. He plays A grade in Rocky but he also plays in A2 with me of a Friday night. It’s fantastic and my daughter is the manager of the side.

“I’m a Souths man through and through but we have put in a lot of work for Rockhampton hockey. We’ve had been on management (committees) for a long time.”

The duo played a large role, with other local hockey stalwarts, in getting the artificial playing surfaces developed in the town which lead to hosting the Olympic trials pre-Tokyo.

Barbara has had a couple of stints as president of the local hockey association with Ryan also on the management committee over the years as facilities officer particularly.

“It’s been a life-long passion,” Ryan explained.

“Over a long period of time we have worked to get the hockey facilities here in Rocky to a standard that we can hold test matches.”

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