A number of the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras took to the pitch at the Perth Hockey Stadium for the first time since the Hockey Australia High Performance and Daily Training Environment closed on March 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With restrictions having eased allowing for a measured return to training, strict safety protocols were implemented including temperature checking and a ‘get in, train, and get out’ philosophy.
For Jane Claxton, who works as a qualified Occupational Therapist, having her temperature checked was nothing new, but arriving with her training gear on and stick in her hand took her back to playing as a youngster.
“It definitely took me back to those days of junior hockey when my parents made me leave the house in full kit, so when I got out of the car this morning it felt very reminiscent of those times,” said Claxton.
“Working in the health field I have been getting temperature checks done every day so I’m used to that, but this is definitely an important aspect in us returning to training.”
Claxton, who was named joint 2019 Hockeyroos Player of the Year along with Kaitlin Nobbs, said it was amazing to get back on the turf.
“The girls hadn’t seen each other for the last eight weeks and we are used to seeing a lot of each other, so it was great to catch up on what everyone has been up to,” said Claxton.
“The best thing about getting back out there is just playing hockey. The last eight weeks have been great in focusing on a different aspect of our lives but after the fourth week of running by yourself it started to get a bit tiresome, so getting back on the pitch was a great mix up for the week.”
After confirmation that this year’s Tokyo Olympics has been postponed, Claxton believes many of the Hockeyroos have used the lockdown period to think about off field pursuits to counter the disappointment.
“You work for four years up to this moment (of competing at an Olympics) but I think this has allowed the girls and the team to refocus on different aspects of their lives,” said Claxton.
“Some girls concentrated on university and study, I dived deeper into my OT role, so I think it allowed everyone to realise what we have outside of hockey rather than dwelling on the aspect of another 12 month lead up to an Olympics.”
Heralding from Brisbane but choosing to stay in Perth during the lockdown, Kookaburras midfielder Jake Whetton said it was a thrill to be back on the pitch and catch up with teammates that he would normally be used to seeing every day.
“It felt really good to be back on the field with my mates. It has been a long time since I’ve seen most them so to be finally back out there was fantastic and really good fun,” said Whetton.
“I’m probably speaking on behalf of all of the boys but it’s probably the camaraderie that we’ve missed the most.
“We have been training alone for the last eight weeks in isolation and not having that team aspect of our training, so it was really good to be around each other.”