Why Ipswich talent is travelling so well in national league
IN her second national league season, Ipswich sportswoman Layla Eleison is feeling more comfortable mixing it with Australia's best hockey players.
"I really enjoy this time of the year where we get to play with all the Hockeyroos girls and the more experienced players,'' Eleison said, preparing for the latest Hockey One League matches in Brisbane on Friday night and Sunday.
"There is a bit of travel from Ipswich but I still enjoy it.
"The new format is actually really good except for again the travelling bit but I think we're all getting used to that now since last year.
"It will be great to have three home games in a row coming up.''
The Blaze women play Tassie Tigers on Friday at 6pm before a 1pm Sunday clash against Perth Thundersticks at Colmslie.
The Blaze will host their final home game against NSW on Saturday, November 2 before the finals series begins.
Eleison is one of three Ipswich-based players in the Blaze squad assembled for the inaugural competition featuring current and future stars of Australian hockey.
Former Australian Hockeyroo Jordyn Holzberger is another regular representative player with goalkeeper Emily Witheyman-Crump also in the newly named Blaze squad.
Eleison and Holzberger have been Hancocks representatives in the Ipswich competition.
"She's been playing so good,'' Eleison said of Holzberger, who shared in Australia's silver medal-winning performance at last year's Commonwealth Games.
"I really enjoy playing with Jordy this year.
"I've got to know her a bit more and started to take on a lot of tips that she's given to me, especially being a former Hockeyroo.''
Eleison has been playing a midfield/striker role in the Hockey One League. Holzberger has been representing Blaze in her usual midfield position.
Eleison worked with Blaze coach Nikki Taylor previously with the Queensland under-21 team.
"She really enjoys us younger girls I think and she then really steps up when we play national league,'' Eleison said.
Preparing for their latest Hockey One round at home, the Blaze women have made a positive start to be in fourth place.
After losing 3-2 on penalties to Canberra in their first game, Blaze went down 1-0 to Melbourne before last weekend's breakthrough 4-2 victory over Adelaide.
Eleison scored her first Hockey One League goal in that game from a variation off a corner.
When asked if she's ready for another big game in Brisbane this weekend, Eleison declared: "I sure am''.
"It's really good.
"We had a bit of a rocky start but I think we've gelled and we've got a new team out there.''
Eleison was player of the final lining up for Hancocks in the recent Ipswich hockey season decider.
Being a dual registered player in the Ipswich and Brisbane competitions, she said a doubleheader provided added excitement this weekend.
"Some of us actually prefer to probably play close together as well because it's not such a long wait for the next game,'' she said.
"Sunday we will probably get a much better crowd there.''
The Blaze men are unbeaten and keen to build on their early success back in Brisbane this weekend.
The men's and women's doubleheaders at the State Hockey Centre will be supported by kid's activities, halftime entertainment, street food vans and a live DJ.
Hockey One League round at the State Hockey Centre (Colmslie): Friday - Brisbane Blaze v Tassie Tigers. Women's game at 6pm with men's clash at 7.30pm.
Sunday: Brisbane Blaze v Perth Thundersticks. Women's game at 1pm with men's match at 2.30pm.