Geraldton and Mid West hockey associations sent a large contingent of players to compete at last weekend’s country week tournament in Perth.
Geraldton was represented by a Divison 1 and 2 team, as well as a Masters team, with mixed results against other teams from around the State.
The Division 1 team had one win and four losses, finishing fifth in their group, while Division 2 recorded one win, two losses and two draws, ending up seventh. The Masters team had four losses and one draw, ending in sixth.
The North Midlands Women’s Hockey Association sent two teams. Its Division 4 team had a win-loss ratio of 2-2 going into its final game, with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal by Brianna Benton seeing them end up in fifth in their pool group.
Its Masters Division 2 team opened up with a draw against the Geraldton team. Three losses followed, but the finished on a high with a 2-1 win against Peel with goals by Kylie Dennis and Jacqui Benton. Overall, they finished fourth.
Shayne Wass, a NMWHA player from the Coorow Hockey Club, was awarded fairest and best in the Masters Division 2.
Six sets of mother and daughters competed for North Midlands hockey with Cherie and Lizzie Smart (Dongara), Bev and Taylor King (Morawa and Carnamah), Tamara and Alicia Sadler (Three Springs), Jenna Fleming and Rheydon Mawson (Three Springs), Claire and Arianna Knight (Carnamah) and Jacqui and Brianna Benton (Coorow and Carnamah) taking to the field.
This year, the Geraldton teams had a large group of junior players stepping up into the Division 1 and Division 2 teams, alongside some more experienced country week players.
Player and organiser Emma Bowen said: “This meant the girls were given the opportunity to learn and develop their game with the support and guidance of ladies who have played the tournament for a number of years.”
Bowen said 2022 was a “year to grow, learn and develop”.
“In 2023, we can continue to build on our experience and strength,” she said.
Country week hockey, as with other country tournaments, is a chance for the country players to head down to Perth and represent their region in the game they love as well as meet and play with people from other clubs, who might be their opposition in their local league.
This gives both experienced and junior players a chance to play in different positions, boosting the skill level to be brought back to the local competitions.
Geraldton Division 1 captain Dirranie Kirby spoke of the value of country week.
“‘It exposes our players to a higher level of hockey so there is skill development, playing different players to the ones you play week-in, week-out makes you learn more about the game,” she said.
“You don’t always get to play in the same position you play in at home, so your game is broadened or developed in that way too. You play with different players from other clubs which helps your game develop.
“All this leads to better hockey being played in your home association, as we can bring these new skills home and agree with others.”