Local wins with Australia during overseas hockey masters

Winners: The Australian over 65 Women's team celebrate their triumph over New Zealand.




THE Latrobe Valley was internationally represented recently, at the Trans-Tasman Hockey Masters tournament.

Played every two years, the tournament gathers Australia and New Zealand’s top hockey players from various age groups.

Held in Christchurch, New Zealand this year, the tournament consisted of players of mature ages, as they represented Australia against the Kiwis.

For the women’s, age brackets begin at over 35s and increase by five years up until over 65s, while for the men’s it begins at over 35s, up to over 75s.

Among those Australians was 64-year-old Leonie Barrett from Traralgon West, who played a pivotal part for the over 65s.

Barrett turns 65 this year, hence why she was eligible to play in the over 65 team.

This was Barrett’s fourth time representing Australia at the Trans-Tasman Masters Hockey Challenge, doing so previously in 2015, ’17 and ’19, before COVID struck.

The 2019 tournament was held on the Gold Coast, while 2017 was across the Tasman in Whangarei, and 2015’s competition took place in Melbourne.

Barrett also competed at the 2016 FIA Masters World Cup, for Australia, which was held in the country’s capital.

“They have national competitions, and at nationals they have selections for the Australian competition, so you’ve got to put your name down,” Barrett said.

“Our coach she that she’d select the best 16 from our age group to go and play in the Australian side, so she wasn’t worried about positions.”

Two weeks after putting her name in contention for the squad, Barrett received the good news.

“I think it’s pretty special every single time, I don’t take it for granted, if it’s your first time or your lucky enough for it to be your fourth, fifth or sixth time, I think the reaction is exciting,” she said.

“I’m really honoured and really privileged to be a part of it, that’s what I thought.”

Barrett began playing hockey at Warragul High School back in 1971, and now boasts more than 50 years experience in the region.

“I was lucky to have a PE teacher that was a state Victorian full back at the time,” Barrett said.

“There was no way we were going to play anything else, except hockey.

“I loved it.”

Over the nine-day journey in New Zealand, Barrett was training or playing on days that they weren’t travelling to or from Australia.

The Australian over 65s fortunately won their tournament, winning two and drawing the other in their best of three series.

“It was really exciting, I think we all enjoyed each other’s company, and we had played as a team before, some of us,” Barrett said.

“Still lots of ball skills, stick skills, just free-flowing games and we created opportunities from getting corners and scoring.

“It was a nice feeling, because they’re a pretty tough opposition!”

They began with a 1-1 draw against the Kiwis, before back-to-back 3-1 wins to secure the title.

“All games against New Zealand were very challenging and they were high-quality,” Barrett said.

“The most important thing is … just being able to maintain friendships, and create life-long friendships.”

Barrett had a hand in both winning games, scoring one of the three goals in each.

“You’d like to think you play a small part,” Barrett laughed.

“I enjoyed the whole experience.”

Hockey has taken Barrett to different parts of Australia, and of course surrounding countries, playing in national and state sides over her time.

“It’s a nice feeling to play with people who are passionate and enjoy it and get a real buzz out of still being able to play,” Barrett explained.

“It’s always an honour and a privilege to pull on the green and gold and represent your country.”

Barrett is no stranger to hockey in the local area, winning numerous club and association best-and-fairest awards, but she finds the most rewarding award to be premierships – that the whole team can enjoy.

“Those other things are nice but you want to win a premiership,” Barrett said.

You’ll find Barrett in and around Traralgon Yellow in the Latrobe Valley Hockey Association (LVHA) – where she has played for around 40 years – either playing, coaching or helping out.

Due to her presence within the association, Barrett is now a life member of the LVHA too.

She also make sure that the Victoria League women’s team gets their help, by assistant coaching their side.

Grinner: Traralgon’s Leonie Barrett, over the moon after the over 65s’ win. Photograph supplied