Hockeyroos & Kookaburras begin Olympic journey at the Oceania Cup30 March 2011
Both the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras will begin their first steps towards gold at the 2012 London Olympics when they face New Zealand and Fiji in the 2011 Oceania Cup/ Olympic Qualifier tournament in Hobart from October 5-9. While both Australia and New Zealand have both already qualified for the London Olympics due to the International Hockey Federation’s world ranking policy, there is still plenty to play for at this tournament.
The winner of the tournament will not only have the title of being Oceania champion, but finishing positions will rank the teams heading into the Olympics which will dictate which pool they ultimately are allocated to. Higher ranking leading into the Olympics could potentially result in a more favourable draw at the Games.
More so, it will also increase the growing level of rivalry between Australia and New Zealand which has been evident in recent time.
The Hockeyroos in particular will be looking to gain some revenge against New Zealand after they went down to the Blacksticks both at the 2008 Olympic qualifier and more recently at the 2010 World Cup qualifier.
They were able to get one back when they defeated New Zealand in exciting circumstances in the recent gold medal match of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, no doubt leaving New Zealand eager to face the Hockeyroos again.
The Oceania Cup/ Olympic Qualifier will be the first major international hockey tournament held in Tasmania since the 2001 Junior World Cup. It will also be the first time the Hockeyroos have played in Tasmania since 1995.
The tournament will also be an important lead up to the International Super Series which will be held in Perth in late October and in which both Australia and New Zealand will compete.
Hockey Australia Chief Executive Mark Anderson said he is excited to bring a world level hockey event to Tasmania.
“There is no doubt that the hockey facilities in Hobart are world class. The Kookaburras played in Tasmania in early 2010 and the finals of the 2009 Australian Hockey League were also played in Hobart. We received some fantastic support from the fans on those occasions and I’m extremely confident that will be the case again during the Oceania Cup/ Olympic Qualifier,” said Anderson.
Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth said the tournament formed an important stepping stone for his team on their journey towards the London Olympics.
“While our qualification for the Olympics is already secure, it’s important for a number of reasons that we perform well at this tournament. We will be well into our preparations for the London Olympics by this time, and the competition for spots in the team amongst the players will be quite fierce. We have a very deep squad and they will be using this opportunity to show us coaches that they deserve to be in the team,” said Charlesworth.
Hockeyroos coach Adam Commens said he is looking forward to the Hockeyroos playing in Tasmania after such a long time from their last visit.
“This tournament will give the Tasmanian fans their first chance to see our exciting young team up close. I’m sure we will leave an impression on them which will see them follow us in future tournaments. Our rivalry with New Zealand has been developing more and more over recent time and culminated during our gold medal win over them at the Commonwealth Games. No doubt they will be out for revenge and it will be our challenge to stand up to that and come out on top,” said Commens.