CIRCLE OF PROGRESS: After the promise shown by the Easts Reserve Grade women's team and terrific success by the juniors, the Tigers club is one to watch in the future.
CIRCLE OF PROGRESS: After the promise shown by the Easts Reserve Grade women's team and terrific success by the juniors, the Tigers club is one to watch in the future. Cordell Richardson

Why 2020 will provide 'better' Ipswich club hockey

PREPARING for a quieter 2020 season as host centre, Ipswich Hockey Association president Robert McLeod is keen to build on recent advances in the club competition.

McLeod said Ipswich was unlikely to have many major state tournaments at the Raceview venue next year.

However, after another progressive season at the Ipswich Hockey Complex, McLeod said everyone involved in the sport had plenty to look forward to next year.

"We seem to be booming,'' McLeod said.

"We had a good year with our juniors this year, our Hookin2Hockey and that sort of thing. We seem to be increasing our numbers there.''

Providing plenty of optimism was having more E-Grade and D-Grade sides in the 2019 Ipswich junior competition.

McLeod was delighted to see junior coaches putting so much time into their teams.

"Easts just blossomed this year,'' he said.

"They took out team of the year and won four premierships this season.''

McLeod also hopes Easts can field a future A-Grade women's team after the progress continued this year.

"They are a club that's improving and they are only going to go forward. Easts are a club to watch,'' he said.

With other clubs like Wests also maintaining healthy development programs the outlook is positive for 2020.

"As far as the clubs go, I think it's actually going to be a better year than this year,'' he said.

"I think it's going to be closer, probably see a lot more good hockey.

"The juniors are still expanding.''

Off the field, McLeod said the main highlight was getting the second toilet block completed on the Raceview grass fields after a three-year wait.

That was an important addition to the facility given how many junior teams play on the grass fields and the higher level championships held in Ipswich during the season.

As he considers running again for president at next year's AGM, McLeod said another important upgrade was off-season improvements in the clubhouse kitchen.

He praised the IHA committee and dedicated volunteers for their ongoing efforts and helping him settle in.

"I've got two years under my belt so I know what's on going on basically,'' the former Railways supervisor and leading hand said.

"That first year was a big eye-opener. I didn't know the work behind the scenes people did and all that sort of thing.

"There's a lot of bodies and a lot of experience so I got through.''


Incoming Ipswich Hockey Association president Robert McLeod
Ipswich Hockey Association president Robert McLeod David Lems

As McLeod continues looking to the future, he understood how new IHA regional coaching director Hugh Hocking was progressing.

After giving Hocking a season to find his proverbial feet, McLeod said the Ipswich newcomer would be encouraged to continue his positive development work.

"Some of the things he excelled in, like with the rep sides, the coaching,'' McLeod said.

"His ideas were good and everyone seems to like the way he does things.''

Such was his involvement, the former Melbourne hockey enthusiast was invited to be assistant coach of the Queensland under-13 boys team at the nationals in Hobart.

"That's a big feather in his cap and a feather in our cap,'' McLeod said.

"We don't want him to stop with his rep training and his off-season training and the high performance programs he's set up . . . next year we just want him to be a little bit more on hand with our juniors.''

Building partnerships

WHILE Ipswich Hockey's two main synthetic surfaces were "holding up pretty good,'' association president Robert McLeod was eager for Ipswich City Council to continue their maintenance program on the grass fields over the off-season.

Under a multi-use policy, the Ipswich Hockey Association has leased fields to Council for other sports like soccer to use at different times. But McLeod knows how important it is to keep the grass surfaces in good condition with Council taking over control of the watering at the IHA-owned complex.

"It's quite a satisfactory partnership,'' McLeod said.

"We actually have got a a very good working relationship with the Council.

"Most of our problems started when the Council got sacked.

"Instead of dealing with one or two people, we now have to deal with about six or eight different people.

"Once we get a new Council up, the relationship will come back to what it was.''