Eighteen of Australia’s brightest hockey prospects have today been named on the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Team to be plauyefor Buenos Aires 2018.
Australia will field a men’s and women’s team for the 5-a-side modified game to be coached by Ben Bishop (men’s) and Tim White (women’s), having qualified through Oceania in Port Moresby in April.
Hockey Australia High Performance Director Toni Cumpston said: “We are delighted with the opportunity to send both men and women to the Youth Olympics and greatly appreciate the support of the Australian Olympic Commitree to enable this to happen.
“It is a wonderful opportunity to expose future Hockeyroo and Kookaburra athletes as well as HP staff to a multi sport environment and the team’s look forward to being part of the wider Australian Youth Olympic Team.”
The men head into the Games as the two-time defending Youth Olympic Champions. Australia won gold at the Nanjing 2014 YOG after a nail-biting final against Canada where they took the victory on a 3-1 penalty shootout after the score was equalised 3-3 at full-time.
This followed a 2-1 victory over Pakistan for the gold medal at the inaugural YOG at Singapore 2010.
However, with most athletes in the 2018 team having more than 10 years’ experience in the sport, and with a number of Under-18 national champions in the mix, they’re ready to defend their title.
“The team going to Buenos Aires is out to defend two previous gold medals, so there is plenty of expectation to do well,” 18-year-old Brad Marais said.
“Playing Hockey 5s will be a new experience for most of the players, but I have no doubt that it will be an incredible learning experience for everyone involved.
“It will be my first time competing against other hockey nations, and I am really looking forward to being able to represent the green and gold.”
While members of the boys’ team hail from Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, there will be some familiarity for Melbournian Brad, who has been named on the team alongside his younger brother Craig.
The South African-born brothers started playing Hockey after they moved to Australia in 2008 and say they’ve been fortunate to share the journey to Buenos Aires together.
“The Youth Olympic Games became a goal for me after I competed at the Under-21 Nationals tournament in 2017. After that tournament I set my sights on travelling to Argentina with the YOG team and that became my main hockey goal for 2018,” Brad said.
“To play alongside my younger brother, Craig, is a very special occasion. We play a lot together for school and club games, as well as at various state tournaments, but to be able to play on the international stage together will be a really cool to experience.”
Craig shares his big brother’s excitement and said he’s grateful that Brad “has always pushed me to be competitive against older people, which definitely helped me reach this team.”
“Once I heard about the Youth Olympics in 2014 I always thought it would be awesome to go but never really thought I had a chance,” 16-year-old Craig said.
“Once the trial squad was announced I was stoked to just be included and was determined to make the most of the opportunity.
“The weekend after trials, other athletes started to get calls so I decided to not lose sight of my phone. When Ben Bishop told me I was in I couldn’t control my excitement but I had to because Brad was the next person to be called meaning I had to wait for his outcome.
“I am so excited to be able to not only go to the Youth Olympics but do it with my brother as well.”
Australia will field a women’s Hockey 5s team for the first time at Buenos Aires. With each National Olympic Committee only able to select one male and one female team for team sports at the Games, Aussie women have previously been represented in Handball (Singapore 2010) and Rugby Sevens (Nanjing 2014).
Morgan Mathison, 17, is the only selected Hockey player from Queensland and is excited to play alongside many of the athletes she’s often opposed.
“When you’re so used to competing against someone, its super exciting to come together and compete with them,” Mathison said.
“It’s really exciting to play with them because you get to see the range of talent that there is across the country and you learn so many new things from watching and talking to them.
“There is so much talent in Australia for this age group and I knew that it would be a really tough team to make.
“I was quite nervous when I got the phone call but I guess it just goes to show that hard work pays off and I couldn’t have been more excited to be selected.”
Australia is expected to take around 95 athletes to the third edition of the Youth Olympic Games in the Argentinian capital in October.
Lain Carr (18), Matcham, NSW
James Collins (18), Perth, WA
Miles Davis (17), Sydney NSW
Brad Marais (18), Melbourne VIC
Craig Marais (16), Melbourne, VIC
Alistair Murray (18), Tincurrin, WA
Jed Snowden (16), Melbourne, VIC
Christian Starkie (17), Perth, WA
Ben White (18), Blackburn, VIC
Caitlin Cooper (17), Perth, WA
Naomi Duncan (16), Sydney, NSW
Amy Lawton (16), Emerald, VIC
Morgan Mathison (18), Gold Coast, QLD
Indianna Robertson (18), Bentleigh, VIC
Courtney Schonell (17), Narellan Vale, NSW
Jolie Sertorio (16), Peppermint Grove, WA
Maddison Smith (18), Albion Park, NSW
Grace Young (15), Yowie Bay, NSW