GAME ON: Australia and New Zealand men's and women's teams will face off in the Oceania Cup in Rockhampton next year.
GAME ON: Australia and New Zealand men's and women's teams will face off in the Oceania Cup in Rockhampton next year. DEAN LEWINS

Oceania Cup a coup for Rocky: Hockey Australia boss

HOCKEY: Hockey Australia president Melanie Woosnam says spectators will be treated to international hockey at its best at the Oceania Cup in Rockhampton next year.

The Beef Capital will host the international men's and women's tournament, as well as the Intercontinental Hockey5s, from September 1 to 8.

Woosnam said it was a coup for Rockhampton to host the event, which acts as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympics.

"Typically the Oceania Cup is hosted in capital cities so to take it out of a capital city to a regional centre such as Rockhampton is fantastic,” she said.

"It's great for hockey and it's great for a city like Rockhampton because the economic benefit from an event like this is wonderful.

POWER COMBO: Hockey Australia president Melanie Woosnam  and Rockhampton Hockey Association president Barb Knowles discuss plans for the Oceania Cup, which will be held in Rockhampton next year.
POWER COMBO: Hockey Australia president Melanie Woosnam and Rockhampton Hockey Association president Barb Knowles discuss plans for the Oceania Cup, which will be held in Rockhampton next year. Allan Reinikka ROK091118ahockey1

"The Kookaburras are number one in the world at the moment and the Hockeyroos are number three so we're the only nation that has teams in the top three in the world rankings.

"To have them here gives the opportunity to Rockhampton and the surrounding community to watch world-class hockey.

"This will be some of the best hockey you'll ever get to see.

READ: Homegrown hero Mark Knowles excited for Oceania Cup in Rocky

"I think there will be some very jealous people around given some of the major capital cities aren't even hosting international hockey of the calibre of the Oceania Cup.”

Woosnam is in Rockhampton to watch her daughter play for the Gold Coast at the state under-13 indoor hockey challenge at CQUniversity.

She said it was an ideal opportunity to catch up with Rockhampton Hockey Association president Barb Knowles and to inspect the facilities at the city's hockey headquarters, Kalka Shades.

Knowles, the mother of Kookaburras' great Mark Knowles, was a driving force behind the successful Cup bid.

It was her dream to bring international hockey back to Rockhampton after it hosted a two-Test series between Australia and South Korea in 2006.

The Hockeyroos will play in Rockhampton next September.
The Hockeyroos will play in Rockhampton next September. Grant Treeby / Hockey Australia

Woosnam said it was great to see that dedication rewarded.

"Barb's been involved for a long, long time and it's testament to her hard work and the hard work of the volunteers on her management committee and the broader volunteer base that Rockhampton have got that they've been able to secure this tournament but also deliver tournaments in the past,” she said.

"They've got a really good strong track record of delivering successful, high-quality events and it's fantastic for hockey.”

Woosnam has been on the Hockey Australia board for five years and president for two.

She played for the Hockeyroos between 1993 and 1995 during the team's decade of international dominance under coach Ric Charlesworth.

Woosnam said there were exciting times ahead for the sport, with the FIH Pro League and the revamped National Hockey League to start next year.

Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles and Matt Ghodes with the World Cup in 2014.
Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles and Matt Ghodes with the World Cup in 2014.

She said the country's governing body was always working on innovative ways to ensure the game continued to be relevant.

"Our point of difference is that it's dual gender, we can play it from five to 85 years of age and it can be played on any surface - synthetic, grass or indoors,” she said.

"Having a strong international standing is really important but we've really got to work hard to promote the sport internally within Australia.

"It's really important that we stay connected and engaged with the grass roots of our sport because that's where it all happens.

"We wouldn't have players like Mark Knowles and Jamie Dywer and Matt Gohdes without the tireless work of people like Barb and the hockey community at volunteer level.”



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