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Updated: Aug 8

Four of our amazing Vikings CL1 women players were recognised for their outstanding play and potential by being selected in the ACT Women’s U18s team to play at the Australian Championships in Hobart - Samantha Read, Imogen Dorsett, Alexis Bailey, Jess Speechley and Keira Polmanteer.

This annual tournament pits U18 development teams from across the country against each other, with some larger states entering two teams per gender, enabling a showcase for the game and affording an incredible development opportunity for hundreds of aspiring hockey youngsters.

While the scores didn’t always go in the favour of the ACT teams during the tournament, they admirably demonstrated skill, teamwork and determination with regular moments of excellent attack and defence throughout the whole campaign.

Samantha Read, Imogen Dorsett, Alexis Bailey, Jess Speechley and Keira Polmanteer. Not pictured but still celebrated: Head Coach Karl Brenner, who is also our Vikings U18s coach.

We decided to check in with our U18 reps to get some insights and memories from the Championships…

Favourite memory from the tournament

Sam: When the other team had a breakaway all the way down the field, I stopped them from scoring. It was myself, the keeper and the other girl, and I got in between them and cleared it out. We then went up the other end and ended up having a scoring opportunity. It was really exciting as a defender, you don’t often get glorious moments like that!

Keira: For me it was winning the game against Victoria. It was a first win for a lot of the girls and it was really special to have that with them.

Jess: Yeah, my favourite memory was the same game! It was a great moment because it such a good game. We all did so well and definitely the after-game celebration in the change room was the best (editor’s note: would have liked to know more about this but that was not forthcoming…)

Alexis: My favourite memory was just playing against the best under 18 hockey players in Australia and being lucky enough to represent ACT at this tournament with a great bunch of girls.

Immi: Winning against Vic Development! At 3-1 it was a very close match, but a very convincing win.

How did it help your development as a hockey player?

Jess: Oh, there was heaps of development – you’re always coming out of a championship having grown as a player, having learned something. Your mental play grows, your decision making becomes better from it. It’s just a great experience especially for those who want to really progress their hockey.

Kiera: It was great opportunity to compete with the best of the other under 18 hockey players in Australia, and to able to show that ACT is competitive. Most of the development was mental, and so going into next year hopefully we can get a few more wins now that the belief is there.

Sam: Being able to be playing against different competition, especially teams from bigger states like NSW and QLD, really helped to improve my skills. Such a great opportunity to try your best against tougher sides.

Alexis: Playing hockey against better competition and at a higher level has improved my ability to perform under pressure and refine my skills.

Toughest moment:

Sam: As a defender, when you keep having goals scored against you like in some games, it can be hard to get the mental strength to keep going and keep pushing, and to try and get your team up rather than being down like that.

Kiera: In a game against one of the NSW sides, going ahead against them 1-0, but then going down 6-1 in the end.

Jess: Yep, the game above was really tough, really heartbreaking but able to come together as a team during the game and after made it less hard.

Alexis: Unfortunately getting stuck in the girls change room toilets for 25 minutes after a game, whilst getting dressed after an ice bath recovery session.

Immi: Coming from a small state compared to like, QLD or NSW, you’re going to be up against some hard competition and you’re going to expect some disappointment in areas. Going against NSW, it was a very hard match, we didn’t go very well – but we gave it our all.

But actually… the actual hardest part of the championships was coming home! Our flight got cancelled, it was meant to be Melbourne to Canberra (so it should have been easy), but it was cancelled a few hours before and we ended up having to stay the night. We got to our hotel at about 12am, and then caught a rackety old bus the next day from Melbourne which took about 10 hours, so a tough time getting home. Still, it meant I got to spend more time with the team, so that was cool.

Silliest moment

Sam: Having one of our quietest team members just getting brutal on the field and pushing another player over; seeing someone usually so quiet and introverted getting really aggravated on the field, it was so funny.

Jess: Rookie day… like doing balloon popping on each other.

Alexis: It was participating in rookie day activities, for example, eating baby food. The one I ate was a lamb risotto, it looked orange and it tasted disgusting.

Immi: Lip syncing at Rookie Day! The girls sang Taylor Swift’s Our Song and, Party in the USA.

Funniest nickname

Alexis: It was Spiderman, it relates to a Vikqueen on this trip…

Jess: I copped Spiderman because my phone started playing the Spiderman theme song as my ringtone when (Kookaburras legends) Mark Hagar and Mark Knowles began speaking to everyone at an education session for the whole group!

Did the other Vikings girls behave themselves?

Sam: Yes… Imogen can be a bit rambunctious (we were roommates) but the Vikings girls did behave themselves and they did have a good time.

Everyone else: Yes, us Viking girls were good!

On an unusually mild Canberra morning, at the Willows Field at ANU, the Tuggeranong Vikings ‘Fury’s’ Under 11 mixed team gathered for their match against an unbeaten, more favoured side. The team of ten were roughly split 50/50 girls and boys, with experienced Hookin2Hockey campaigners, with up to four years of super junior hockey under their belt, interspersed with new players who had only very recently picked up a hockey stick. All were super keen, excited, and bubbling with anticipation for the challenge ahead.

The opposition had talent all over the pitch with a particularly strong goalkeeper who had a standout performance throughout the June Long Weekend Regional Tournament. But the Fury’s had also fielded four Regional Representatives of their own and showed no fear at taking on the favoured foe. All they really wanted to do was play. And play they did!

The game commenced with a very quick goal for the opposition. This seemed to shock the Fury’s into action and from that point they didn’t look back. For seven rounds the team had grown incrementally in experience, talent and trust in their teammates. But in this round eight game the penny dropped, and the developed skills, practised drills and errors learned from in previous games all came together; to a player they brought their very best to the game, right across the pitch.

The Fury’s tackled well and backed each other up in defence perfectly. Like a Greek Phalanx, every time a Fury was beaten in a tackle, another was poised waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on the distracted striker, while the first defender chased back to apply yet another tackle. Of particular note, in a Best on Ground performance, the Fury’s fullback made a dozen goal saving tackles, playing the best game of his life (so far!), stifling the opposition attack time and time again.

In their own forward half the Fury’s played some inspired offence. They used space to great effect, in both passing and running. Their off-the-ball work rate was the envy of many of the adult hockey players amongst the parent group. Their hockey acumen in consistently passing early, running to space and receiving the ball back in scoring positions was extraordinary for an Under 11s squad.

They used angles, took risks, used the available space and demonstrated the ability and willingness to take on defenders and run the ball when opportunities presented.

Despite peppering the goalkeeper, his experience and skill shone through, and the Fury strikers were unable to find a gap. But this frustration (certainly for the coach and parents) was not visible on the face of the Fury players. They just wanted to play. And play they did.

As a spectator that hadn’t seen the initial seven rounds of Under 11s hockey, the level of development from graduation from Hookin2Hockey to round eight of Under 11s was as inspiring as it was impressive. The cementing of foundation skills, the development of secondary and in some cases tertiary skills (tomahawks not allowed in this grade) was fantastic to see. There was agile footwork, aligning with body positioning and enabling sound stick work in a variety of movements, on and off the ball. Some players were even delivering accurate no-look passes which is an indicator of their emerging subconscious understanding of structures and where their teammates are, and where they should be.

The game and the team perfectly exemplified formalised junior sport. Maximised participation, a strong focus on enjoyment, development, mateship and team spirit. Junior sport, especially at the very junior level, should never be tainted with the win at all costs, playing for sheep stations attitude that so often pervades the senior grades. Players putting their teammates and their team first, and coaches, supported by parents, putting the enjoyment, safety and development of players above score sheets and goal tallies. This is the bedrock of junior sport and the foundation from which senior and elite athletes will spring.

This is the approach taken by the Viking Fury’s right from round one. Inspired by each other, their coach and their parents, the Fury’s have found a genuine love of the game, which will set them up well for the future in the older junior grades, senior hockey and in life.

U11 Furys running to the camera
Such a good photo...

The Fury’s coach has that broad view. As an Army Major he values and invests in the strength of the group. Their sense of honour and integrity in their approach to the game and way they play is a key goal, along with mutual trust and inclusion across the player and coaching group. He sees the players as individuals within a team, looking to identify and nurture leadership potential, where the player may not necessarily see this potential in themselves. He brings an infectious enthusiasm for the team and the sport, a positive energy that is both inspirational and aspirational for the players and those around them. His feedback loop is seeing the kids enjoy themselves each week and develop.

He describes his personal measure of effectiveness (you just can’t take the military terminology out of the soldier!) not as a scoreline, or a win-loss ratio or the goal scoring leaderboard, but as the degree to which his players develop, enjoy their sport, love being part of the team, and most importantly, how many kids come back to play next year and how many friends they bring.

It’s people like him who make retention happen. Ultimately, junior sport is about encouraging players to be the best version of themselves they can be, without applying needless pressure at too young an age. Do this, and the kids will inspire you with their performance, not just on the pitch, but in so many ways that sport can foster. Inspired young hockey players, with a sense of team spirit and a love of sport, grow into inspired young adults of whom we can all be proud.

This is the greatest investment in future generations we can possibly make. And it’s the least we can do for them.

By Dani Sweetman and Don Rosser

The U11 Furys excitedly running towards the camera in their Vikings uniforms
Photo of the year!

  • Writer's pictureEditor

Dear TVHC Members, please see the below important information and changes sent by Hockey ACT today due to the escalating COVID-19 outbreak in NSW.

Hockey ACT are continuing to monitor the current COVID-19 updates from the ACT Government. At this stage training and games can continue as scheduled, however, if this changes we will be in touch with further information. The Return to Play Guidelines have been updated today, with the major changes including:

  • When attending a Hockey ACT facility, all participants, umpires and officials over 12 years old are required to wear face masks before and after games as well as in common areas, including outside areas, changerooms, bathrooms and Pick Up Stix. Participants and referees are not required to wear masks while competing. Spectators, coaches, managers and officials are required to wear masks at all times. Please note, due to the various sporting competitions and community users that visit Hockey ACT facilities we have mandated the use of masks in outdoor areas in addition to the ACT Health advice for indoor areas.

  • Non-ACT residents who have been in the Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour regions of NSW are not permitted to travel into the ACT unless they have an approved exemption. Exemptions will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Unfortunately, HACT have been notified of three players that have played competition games over the weekend after visiting Sydney on or after 21 June. ACT Health has advised HACT that the players that have played in games with these players are close contacts who need to monitor their symptoms and get tested if they have the mildest of symptoms. All the affected players and clubs have been notified. It takes our whole community to keep us COVD-safe and ensure we can continue to play hockey so please be vigilant and assist HACT in taking these matters seriously.

The updated guidelines have been posted to HACT social media accounts this afternoon to ensure participants can be prepared for games and training tonight. Other updates:

  • HACT is putting in place contingency plans for competition games in case the ACT Government issues a mandated lock down. We will provide clubs with further information if/when required.

  • Participants for HACT's upcoming regional carnivals have been contacted today at approximately 1pm, if your club members are attending and have not been contacted please have them email Lil Mutton –

All other HACT Return to Training Guidelines remain unchanged, if you require any further information please see

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