Sporting legends on their way, ready to play
HOCKEY: Thirteen members of the Kookaburras Olympic gold-medal winning team of 2004 will take the field in Rockhampton next month.
Home-grown heroes Mark Knowles and Jamie Dwyer will be among them, playing in a Legends game organised as part of the 2019 Oceania Cup.
The match will mark the 15th anniversary of the victory in Athens, the only Olympic gold the Kookaburras have won.
The Legends line-up will also include fellow Rockhampton Olympian Matt Gohdes.
They will take on a local invitational team at 8pm on Thursday, September 5, after the first Test matches between Australia and New Zealand.
Kym Ireland, Rockhampton's only female hockey Olympian, will umpire the game.
She said it was a coup for Rockhampton to have secured the hosting rights for the Oceania Cup, which is being held in regional Australia for the first time.
"It's really exciting to get such a big event here, especially with Australia and New Zealand playing to qualify for the Olympic Games,” Ireland said.
"I hope a lot of people do come down to have a look, particularly the younger kids who probably haven't seen international hockey before.
"They'll learn a lot from it, just watching how these teams play the game. It's about being patient, putting the ball into space and being disciplined.”
Ireland said the Oceania Cup would be sure to rekindle memories of her playing days for Australia.
A goalkeeper, Ireland was a member of the Hockeyroos who finished fourth at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
"There is nothing like putting on the green and gold and representing your country,” she said.
Ireland is an ambassador for the Oceania Cup, and said she was looking forward to umpiring the Legends game.
She said it would be a wonderful opportunity for spectators to watch the current stars and former greats such as Knowles and Dwyer in action.
Rockhampton Hockey president Barb Knowles said the Legends game would add another dimension to what promised to be a brilliant showcase of international hockey.
The Oceania Cup will feature the Australian and New Zealand men's and women's teams.
They will play a best-of-three Test series, with the winners automatically qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Pacific Island nations Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Tonga will also be in action, contesting the Intercontinental 5s.
The Test matches will be played on September 5, 7 and 8. Tickets are on sale now at rockhamptontickets.com.au