THUMBS UP: Rockhampton Hockey Association president Barbara Knowles, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, Mayor Margaret Strelow, Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke at the new hockey field.
THUMBS UP: Rockhampton Hockey Association president Barbara Knowles, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, Mayor Margaret Strelow, Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke at the new hockey field. Jann Houley

Governments band together to make Rocky hockey international

THE Olympic-standard hockey field at Kalka Shades was officially opened yesterday and representatives from all levels of government hailed it an intergovernmental success.

Mayor Margaret Strelow said it presented the opportunity to foster more elite hockey talent to join the likes of Central Queensland's Jamie Dwyer, Matt Gohdes and Mark Knowles.

"What a fantastic motivation this will be for young athletes who aspire to play at an international level,” she said.

"There's a lot to be said for working under pressure and the hockey community have certainly pulled out all stops to get this project finished.”

Cr Strelow was keen to see the new field put to the test when it hosts the Oceania Cup in two weeks and hoped it would attract more high level sporting events.

WOMEN'S A-GRADE SEMI FINAL: Park Avenue's Tamara Temperley with the ball.
WOMEN'S A-GRADE SEMI FINAL: Park Avenue's Tamara Temperley with the ball. Jann Houley

The project was jointly funded by all levels of government.

The Queensland Government invested $34 million, the Federal Government $600,000, and Rockhampton Regional Council chipped in almost $1.5 million.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said there were many ways the community would benefit from the ability to hold professional-standard events.

She said she was pleased to see all levels of government work together for the betterment of sport in Capricornia.

Ms Landry congratulated the Rockhampton Hockey Association on their efforts in pulling together an international competition for the city.

Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke, fresh off the back of a Central Queensland Olympic bid campaign, took the opportunity to to push for CQ inclusion once again - using Kalka Shades as his selling point.

"This is of an Olympic standard, we need to remember that. We had the the Southeast Queensland mayors talking about an Olympics bid for 2032, but we have the facilities here in Central Queensland and we should be pushing to ensure that any bid for the Olympic Games should include all of Queensland, not just the southeast,” he said.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe, who also was in town for the launch, described the massive transformation from when the ground was broken to the finished product.

He was confident the state's investment in projects such as this, combined with Works for Queensland, would create local jobs and opportunities into the future.

"This means not only security of employment for families but jobs for tradies and apprentices just starting out in their careers,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

But perhaps the most grateful of all to see the new field officially opened was Barbara Knowles, the president of Rockhampton Hockey Association.

"This is the moment we have been waiting for for so long. We are all so excited about being here today,” she said.

She was thankful for the governments' collective contributions towards getting the site completed.

"For sport, what a wonderful thing this is that every level of government and every sporting association can benefit from what we have now,” Mrs Knowles said.

"This turf is identical to the one (the Australians) will play on in Tokyo only 12 months away.

"They are as excited about being here as we are.”

Mrs Knowles said hiccups in construction of the new field were "nothing we couldn't handle”, and she was delighted to see the project delivered on time for the Oceania Cup.

However it won't be Australia and New Zealand's elite players christening the new hockey arena. That honour has been taken by teams in the RHA who have been playing on the new field for a number of weeks.

"They have been nothing but complimentary about it,” Mrs Knowles said.

She said new pitches are notorious for bounce, but the new turf did not experience those issues, and in fact she said her husband had told her the turf was "playing exceedingly well.”

The Oceania Cup, to be held in Rockhampton from September 4-8, is an Olympic qualifying event.

The Australian and New Zealand men's and women's hockey teams will be vying for a place in Tokyo next year.

Six Test matches will be played across three days - Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Pacific Island nations Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Solomon Islands will compete in an Intercontinental Hockey Fives competition across all five days.



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