9 January 2024

ACT claims Open Women's National Indoor Hockey title for the first time

| Tim Gavel
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The winning ACT Indoor Hockey Open Women's side

The winning ACT Indoor Hockey Open Women’s side. Photo: Hockey ACT Facebook.

The ACT’s crowning as the National Open Women’s Indoor Hockey Champions has been decades in the making.

At 39 years of age, Emma Taylor has been a member of many ACT campaigns that have fallen short and it appeared the national title was beyond her reach.

Bec Hotchkiss, aged 40, won the national championship with Victoria 12 years ago but hadn’t held the shield aloft for the ACT.

Over the past week at Lyneham, the team tapped into years of experience to claim the ACT’s first-ever women’s open national indoor hockey title.

The platform for the championship win, which was sealed with a 3-1 victory over the perennial powerhouse NSW, was laid in the months leading up to the tournament.

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The key was to create a safe, supportive environment for every player. Bec believes this was instrumental in their success.

“We created a safe environment where we supported each other, allowing each to take risks knowing they had the full backing of their teammates,” she said.

Emma said another important aspect of the team culture was the ability to deal with situations outside their control, such as umpiring decisions.

“We put a lot of focus in this area of the game,” she said, “We can get caught up in the umpire’s decision and things not going our way. We made an effort to control the controllables; if you make a mistake, it’s okay.”

The Indoor National Champions: The ACT Open Women's team. Photo: Hockey ACT Facebook.

The Indoor National Champions: The ACT Open Women’s team. Photo: Hockey ACT Facebook.

Bec reinforces this point.

“Within our group, we emphasised the importance of getting behind each other. The crowd at the stadium said they could feel the positive nature within the team, and it was reflected in the way we played. Every time one of the team did something, we got around them; we high-fived every time we came off. Of course, it helps when you are winning!”

Not only did the ACT Open Women’s team secure the national title, but they also won the Play the Whistle award for their sportsmanship throughout the tournament.

Emma said the award came as a surprise and it was a great honour, but at the same time, she emphasised the importance of experience in dealing with on-field situations.

“I definitely have learnt to turn away and deal with situations myself. A younger me might have dealt with it differently.”

Bec adds, “It definitely helps when your teammates smile back.”

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Despite the experience, Emma said she is still taking time to come to terms with what they have achieved as a team.

“We knew we had the ability to win, but I still can’t believe it,” she said. This is despite having been there before. Bec said the moment was special.

“I won it with Victoria 12 years ago,” said Bec, “but it feels so much sweeter this time around. We are all mates.”

Emma, Bec, the coaches and the support staff have created a winning culture, which will lay the platform for ACT Open Women’s teams for many years to come.

By creating an incredibly positive team environment where players feel safe to express themselves on and off the field of play, they have set the platform for a winning formula that should be sustained for years to come.

In the minds of many, this platform will be regarded as important as the victory itself.

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