The Australian team – which included three representatives from Parkes – has returned from the 2017 Trans Tasman Masters Challenge in New Zealand overall champions.
It was an outcome Denise Gersbach – who played in the Over 45 women’s division, Matt Searl (Over 45 men’s) and Sharon Dixon (physiotherapist for Over 40 men’s) were thrilled with.
Even more so for Searl and Dixon, whose teams won their respective divisions at the series.
The trio were selected to represent Australia following the 2016 National Masters Hockey Championships in October, when they represented NSW.
Each Australian team played a three test series against New Zealand in Whangarei from May 2-6.
Gersbach’s side, the Over 45 women, won their first test 1-0, drew their second test 1-1 and lost the third test 2-0.
Searl’s Over 45 men won their first test 3-1, lost their second test 2-1 and had a 0-0 draw in the third test, while Dixon’s Over 40 men won all three tests 5-0, 3-2 and 5-1.
“It was a fabulous experience for all three [of us] and a fantastic achievement for Parkes hockey,” Gersbach said.
It was the first time Gersbach and Searl pulled on the green and gold uniform, which they said was an honour in itself.
“This was the first time both Matt and I had represented Australia at the Trans Tasman Challenge,” Gersbach said.
“It was such an honour to wear the green and gold, and it was fantastic to be there for each other to cheer each other on.
“A personal goal for me has been to make an Australian team so just putting on my uniform for the first time was an amazing feeling.”
For Dixon, it was the seventh time she has been able to support players on the Australian team.
But it wasn’t all about scoring goals or coming home with the gold, especially for Gersbach and Searl.
“A highlight for me was standing in the middle of the pitch before our game and listening to our National Anthem,” Gersbach said.
“My highlight was being presented with my Aussie playing shirt and singing the National Anthem before playing,” Searl added.
Searl said the quality of play and players’ attitudes was something that stood out for him.
“The toughness of the games and the sportsmanship on and off the field,” he said.
“[One of my goals was] just being a part of a well drilled unit with everyone playing their best they could for one another.”
Of course his debut was made even sweeter upon his side’s victory.
“It was an awesome feeling accepting that medal around my neck,” Searl said.
“It was a great atmosphere to be with all the guys.”