Hockey sisters take Ipswich to top two

INDOOR HOCKEY: The presence of two sets of sisters in Ipswich’s Queensland Championship runner-up women’s team made their success even more special.

Norths Devils reserve graders Tayla, 26, Alannah, 28, and coach Leonie Young, 34, and Abby and Layla Eleison from Hancocks formed the nucleus of the side which performed exceptionally on its march to the state final.

Remarkably, they did it with just one reserve and almost half the squad, namely the Young trio, had not played the indoor game before this season.

Due to the age gap between them, it was also the first time the tightknit sisters had lined up alongside one another and they relished the opportunity.

“I had coached them (Alannah and Tayla),” said eldest Leonie.

“But we had never played together, so it was really fun.”

Leonie said the rare familial makeup of the squad was certainly not something seen every day.

She said it certainly added to the sense of achievement felt throughout a stellar tournament for the closely bonded team.

“It does make it special,” she said.

“You try that much harder knowing that your family is there with you.

“We are really good friends with the four other girls as well.

“They have all played before and they are really good kids. Allanah, Tayla and I fed off them and tried to get a feel for what they were trying to do.”

Board games heated up in the Young household growing up and that sibling rivalry remains.

There is plenty of banter between clan members and it was that healthy competitiveness which drove Ipswich’s campaign.

It was a memorable return to green for Leonie, who has wound back her playing career after undergoing foot surgery three years ago to repair tendons and ligaments.

“I have never played in an Ipswich team that has finished that high,” she said.

“We have always been competitive but it was a good feeling to be in the top two, and to know what that feels like. The girls played exceptional hockey and to see their hard work pay off was really good.”

Hooked on hockey for almost 30 years, Leonie has met friends which she now considers family.

Since putting down the stick, she has continued her involvement through coaching and umpiring but could not resist pulling on the kit and joining her sisters in the indoor format.

The fast-paced version has gained popularity in the region in the last two to three years with the emergence of the Redbank Indoor Sports Complex as a suitable venue.

Indoor hockey is ideal for refining skills and a great way to hone hand-eye co-ordination and stay in condition during the off-season.

A shortened pitch makes for an action-packed end-to-end contest , while rule variations ensure the game is as safe as possible.

The ball can not be raised off the surface unless it is a shot at goal and there is no hitting in any circumstances.

Young said participation levels had risen and Ipswich had a representative team in every age group this year.

She said the increased prominence of indoor had been great for the growth of the sport overall with players taking up outdoor and vice-versa.

“It has been fantastic for the growth of the sport overall,” she said.

“It keeps the hockey going. I think it is great for people to be involved in any form of hockey. It will only strengthen the sport as a whole.”