Congratulations to the Australian Men’s and Women’s hockey teams picking up Gold and silver respectively at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup in the Hague over the weekend.
The Hockeyroos were ranked fourth in the world going into the competition so a silver medal although disappointing having made the final is no mean achievement; especially when you lose the World number one, The Netherlands. What is also worth noting is this team is one on the rise, coach Adam Commens has quietly gone about his business and this is the second final the team has made in a major event following the World League Hockey final at the start of the year. Congratulation all on a job well done. Also worth mentioning is Rachel Lynch winning the goalkeeper of the tournament. Her next challenge is the Kokoda Trail with team mate Ash Nelson for charity R U Ok? and they have already raised $10,000. Suicide is the biggest killer of Australian’s under the age of 44 and there are 65,00 attempted suicides per year, so this is a great cause.
The Kookaburras defended their World title in emphatic style and in doing so became only the third nation to defend their World Hockey crown after Pakistan and Germany. They lifted the trophy after conceding just three goals in the whole tournament and scoring 30 goals. It was an outstanding team effort and resulted in captain Mark Knowles being named player of the tournament and young star on the rise, Jeremy Hayward being named the young player of the tournament.
In the final Chris Cirello bagged a hat-trick, his second hat-trick in a final in 2014, having scored three in the Sultan Azlan Shah cup final earlier in the year. The question is can he make it three from three with a hat-trick in the Commonwealth Games final?
Talking of hat-tricks another that should be acknowledged is the one achieved by coach Rick Charlesworth. Back in 1986 when Australia won its first Hockey World Cup Rick Charlesworth was the tournament’s highest scorer, and a key component in the Kookaburras line up. After putting his stick away he turned his attention to coaching and steered the Hockeyroos to back-to-back world titles in 1994 and 1998, the second of these titles in the Netherlands where Australia defeated the host nation in the final. Now he has lifted the trophy with the men’s team for a second time in the Netherlands defeating, the host nation in the final. A remarkable achievement by a remarkable coach.
It was fitting that Jamie Dwyer should score the final goal in the final. As, like Charlesworth, he is a leader in the sport in Australia, a man who stands above the rest. It was his extra time goal that won Australia that elusive Olympic Gold medal in Athens in 2004. Some thought at 35 years of age his best years were behind him, but his professionalism and dedication to the sport saw him very much a key part of the team; he was definitely not a passenger and there for sentimental reasons. Dwyer is five times World Player of the year, an accolade that sees him up there as one of the greatest players the game has ever seen, and he understands that with such an honour comes responsibility and the way he carries himself and continues to work as hard as he did at the start of his career is a credit to him. He will not grace another World Cup, so it was fitting that he should put the exclamation mark on Australia’s resounding 6-1 victory.
Sadly as great as these achievements were, as is the fate of Hockey in Australia, the media coverage when these heroes return will be limited. “It is a minority sport,” will be one of the excuses used, an excuse the players have all heard before and grown used to. These men and women are coming back to Australia with World Cup medals around their necks, they deserve their moment in the sun. They receive a pittance in terms of financial reward for their dedication and hard work, surely the least we can do is show our appreciation for that endeavour?
Congratulations all involved with both teams on a tournament that made many Australians proud.