Check out this double boost for Ipswich hockey
THE welcome return of sides from tradition-rich clubs Easts and Thistles is set to bolster this year's Ipswich A-Grade women's hockey competition.
Officials from both clubs have been working hard in recent weeks to secure the players needed for the 2020 competition starting at the Raceview fields from March 13-15.
Long-serving Thistles club president Pauline Alchin was hopeful enough players could be sourced to enter an A-Grade team for the first time in four years.
New Easts women's coach Phil Jackwitz said he only needed a few more players to field a competitive squad after the Tigers recent successes in Reserve Grade.
"We are all going ahead and it looks promising,'' Alchin said, keen to expand on the existing Ipswich club talent.
"We're trying and hopefully we've got the numbers to do that.
"We have picked up some new players outside of Ipswich. We have sourced other avenues to get players.''
The Thistles team will be coached by Hancocks and representative player Jay Pavitt.
"Jay has done all the hard work looking for players outside of Ipswich,'' Alchin said.
Jackwitz has taken on the Easts coaching role, along with his Bellbowrie club commitments.
The advanced level coach was eager to see Easts build a strong A-Grade combination.
"We have got the team,'' Jackwitz said.
"I am comfortable now but two or three more players would be extremely comfortable.''
Jackwitz said the Easts A-Grade squad had been training together since early January.
He's planning trials against Wests and Hancocks before the new season starts next month.
"We've got a pathway to the elite level of club hockey and those aspiring juniors now,'' he said.
"We've identified a squad that will go to A-Grade and they've trained for the first time on their own last week.''
Re-appointed Ipswich Hockey president Robert McLeod said it was positive for the sport to have Thistles and Easts rebuilding A-Grade teams.
"Six or seven teams is a preferred number because it just extends the round,'' he said.
"You're not playing everybody in two weeks or three weeks. So all of a sudden you are looking at four weeks or five weeks and I think everyone appreciates that.''
Defending premiers Wests, Hancocks, Norths and Swifts are committed to field teams in this year's A-Grade women's series.
The men's competition will feature 2019 grand final winners Norths, minor premiers Hancocks, Wests and Easts.
McLeod said there was plenty of movement between the clubs with a number of former players returning this season after a year off.
Ipswich Hockey held its recent open day to give newcomers an opportunity to sign up.