Ipswich upbringing lifts Barry to Hall of Fame honour
THROUGH the many incredible highlights and some emotional disappointments Barry Dancer encountered, his proud Ipswich upbringing remained a constant source of inspiration.
Reflecting on being inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame, Ipswich's most successful international hockey coach is still appreciative of his time learning and teaching in the city.
"I count myself very fortunate to have grown up in Ipswich,'' Dancer said.
"Those formative years, as a player and as a coach, there was a lot of things and people to learn from.''
He said many of his value systems came from family and the Ipswich sporting community.
"There was great opportunity, great learning,'' he said.
Dancer was a lifetime Hancocks Hockey Club player, coach and supporter, teaching at Ipswich Grammar School for a decade.
During his celebrated coaching career, the master tactician guided the Australian Kookaburras men's team to an historic first gold medal triumph at the 2004 Olympics.
"The success in Athens has to be a standout (highlight),'' Dancer said.
"That meant a lot more to hockey followers so to achieve that goal for hockey was a terrific thing to do. That really stands above the rest.''
Teams mentored by Dancer also set the highest standards at World Cup and Champions Trophy tournaments. The Dancer international victory list also features Kookaburras gold medal glories at the 2002 (Manchester) and 2006 (Melbourne) Commonwealth Games.
The Ipswich born and bred achiever was head coach of the Australian Institute of Sport men's hockey program from 2001-08.
As a player, Dancer was once rated the best left halfback in the world. He represented Australia 48 times from 1973-79, being part of the silver medal-winning Australian team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He played in the 1975 and 1978 World Cups.
Dancer started as a nine-year-old playing on the grass fields at the East Ipswich hockey fields.
"A lot of my time and my youth was at the hockey grounds,'' he said.
"Playing and coaching for Hancocks and Ipswich helped develop my skills and ability in both those areas.
"It provided a strong foundation in the early years of my coaching development.''
Dancer's last coaching appointment was five seasons in the Hockey India League, finishing that in 2017.
He also completed a stint with the Queensland Academy of Sport before stepping down from hockey roles.
Asked if he would do anything if he had his time again, the ever-progressive Dancer answered: "Probably a thousand things''.
"You walk away from some disappointments and you still think today what you might have done differently,'' he said.
Dancer said his biggest disappointment was the 2008 Beijing Olympics where "we had a team that was good enough to win a gold medal in that tournament but didn't play well enough and got beaten in the semi-final.''
However, Dancer always moved ahead with his professional coaching values. He offered what he considered the ingredients for success.
"Having the right reason for coaching,'' he said.
"It's important for yourself as a servant and somebody to support people you are coaching to help guide them.
"A lot of times it's multifaceted . . . try to look after them and guide them to reach the potential and develop as young men who can transfer that into their lives and their families, as they progress through hockey and after hockey.''
Like a parent, Dancer said he saw his coaching role as developing their abilities and self sufficiency.
Dancer, 68, now resides on the Sunshine Coast where he enjoys regular morning rounds at Caloundra Golf Club.
"I'm a keen golfer, not a good one,'' he jokes.
However, he was humble and proud to be inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame joining other elite Australian sporting achievers.
"It's very pleasant to be recognised,'' Dancer said.
"I see it as a recognition for hockey and I suppose the careers and performances of various groups of young men I was associated with.
"For me, I can't separate my achievements from that of the teams and the players and the support staff. They are all involved in that and those times.''
Another 2020 inductee was former Ipswich wheelchair legend Roy "Chook'' Fowler, who passed away in 2002, aged 82.
Proud of his origins, Dancer always enjoyed following Fowler's achievements during his time in Ipswich.
"As an Ipswich person, I read a lot about him over the decades that he was so involved with so many different sports and marvellous things,'' Dancer said.
"He was always around the news of sport in Ipswich.''
No family member was located to accept Roy's honour at the prestigious function.
During his inspirational career, Fowler won more than 90 medals in wheelchair sport at national and international level.
He represented Australia more than 20 times on the international stage.
"Chook'' was an outstanding competitor, a perfectionist and admired sportsman rich in character.
He played rugby league and served in the Australian Army before suffering a cerebral haemorrhage after a coalmining accident.
Confined to a wheelchair, Fowler turned to swimming and archery in 1963, representing Australia at the 1964 Disabled Games in Tokyo. He collected three gold medals in swimming and a silver in archery.
That ignited Fowler's remarkable wheelchair sporting career where he won multiple medals in athletics, archery, table tennis and later lawn bowls.
He dominated the greens winning the Australian Wheelchair singles title nine times.
At one stage, he was rated top 20 in the world of archery, including able-bodied competitors.
Dancer was pleased multi-talented Ipswich sportsman Fowler was acknowledged on the same night he was at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre function.
Dancer was also delighted to see another Ipswich hockey player Amy Kickbusch (nee Korner) recently inducted into the Hockey Queensland Hall of Fame.
"It's great for Ipswich hockey to be recognised,'' Dancer said.
"I'm just so pleased for Amy that she was recognised that way.
"Long may that continue. Our players are coming through and achieving some very good things.''
Ipswich Hockey's leading achievers each season are fittingly honoured with the Barry Dancer Excellence Award and the Amy Korner Excellence Award.