Spending time with family revives passion for game
FRESH from some valuable family time away from the game, former Australian Country captain Chris Mantell was enjoying his new role at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
He was back coaching the Easts A-Grade women's side with one of his closest allies by his side.
Mantell's wife Rachael, also a long-time hockey player, is captaining the team that has returned after playing in last year's COVID modified Ipswich competition.
"After two years off, it's good to be back,'' Chris said, after watching the Tigers draw 0-0 with Swifts in their first game of the new season.
The Ipswich couple have four children - Bobbi, 5, Georgie, 3, Edison, 2 and one-year-old Walter.
Having devoted many years as a club and representative player and official, Chris decided it was time to take a break from the game.
However, he's delighted to be back coaching the Easts women and having a run in the Tigers Reserve Grade side.
Like old times rising from junior to senior competition, he linked with brothers Daniel and Adam and their Woodford cousins in Sunday afternoon's match.
While all have aged, they still provided plenty of skilful moves as the Easts Reserve Graders beat Norths 3-1.
"It's been good now to get all the guys back together and have a bit of fun in Reserve Grade,'' Chris said.
As for the Easts women launching a new year, Chris was eager to develop a winning combination - like the Tigers sides he used to dominate in.
"The majority are all Easts juniors,'' he said.
"We've got a couple of extras from Brisbane who have come to support which is really good but we've got a really good group of Easts seniors.''
The former representative team leader is looking to Rachael to help guide the promising players.
"It's a pretty young team so it will be good to build on the next couple of years,'' the new coach said.
He was encouraged by the Tigers' effort against Swifts on Sunday at Raceview.
"For the first game, it was really hot, really good,'' he said.
"They ran for the full 70 minutes and we probably deserved to get a goal at the end and win.
"They (Swifts) played really well as well. It was a tight game and they had a couple of chances.
"But in the last quarter, we had a lot more chances than they did so that was pleasing.''
Mantell said the focus was rotating a group of promising juniors through the side, working with a supportive core of established players.