Townsville Hockeyroos star Steph Kershaw visits rebuilt hockey fields
- 9 January 2020 10:51AM
Seeing photos of the Townsville hockey fields torn apart by floodwaters drove a wedge in Steph Kershaw’s heart.
The 24-year-old Hockeyroos star grew up playing on the synthetic fields.
“I just couldn’t comprehend how sad it looked after it was such an awesome facility, and then just to be devastated, it was horrible,” Steph said.
Flooded in February 2019, the world-class fields were fully repaired by June the same year in a remarkable salvage effort.
“It looks amazing, and that’s through the work of Annette Maidment (Townsville Hockey President) and everyone who helped out.
“I was honestly blown away by just how quickly it happened and how good it looked.”
The $1.9 million works were funded under the joint Commonwealth-Queensland Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
More than 200 local tradespeople and contractors worked on the various projects which included new grandstands, fencing, lighting, irrigation and female change rooms.
The Hockeyroos midfield/striker is living proof that having quality sporting facilities helps retain and develop sporting talent.
“I definitely think it helps the sport up in Townsville having the two quality playing surfaces,” Steph said.
“Townsville kind of made my love for the game, the people and the facilities were the reason that I kept going in hockey when I was pretty good at a couple of other sports.
“I owe them a lot for where I am at the moment and I’m very, very thankful that I had such an awesome community behind me growing up.”
A rising talent at QAS
Steph started playing Minkey hockey in Townsville at age four, and before long she was identified as a rising talent by the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS).
“In hockey you get talent identified from as early as eleven, all the way through to 18 so I think I was definitely on the books for a while,” she said.
“The QAS was awesome; it was definitely a vital two-year building block for me to get into the Aussie squad.
“I think without that, without the training, the coaches and the gym and all the facilities that the QAS has, I probably would not have been able to make the step up to the Aussie squad as quickly or as well.”
Making it to the Commonwealth Games
Steph picked up a Silver medal with the Hockeyroos at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
“It was actually amazing; I really enjoyed it,” she said.
“It was a bit of a bummer not winning Gold but the whole event was something that I have never experienced before.
“It was such an eye-opener being on the world stage and seeing a lot of other athletes from different sporting backgrounds together while also being part of a bigger Australian team; it was really cool.
“It was also the first time my whole family has seen me play for Australia so that was very special.”
The rocky road to success
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though—two knee reconstructions on different knees cost Steph the entire 2016 and 2019 seasons.
“Missing so much hockey is never a good thing; I wouldn’t recommend it,” she said.
“But I used the time to get stronger and physically fitter and fix some physical issues, so it can sometimes be a bit of a blessing in disguise.
“I am fully recovered now and raring to go.”
Looking to the future
The Hockeyroos play in the International Pro League tournament from January 2020 where they’ll travel across the globe playing teams including main rivals Netherlands, Argentina, New Zealand and Great Britain.
“They are the vital games to perform well in and to get selected, as well as some scratch matches between the squad in the lead up to Tokyo,” Steph said.
“We have our first game mid-January so I will be able to play in that if all goes to plan and then hopefully slot straight back in to the Australian team.”
The squad of 27 will be cut to 16 about six weeks before the Tokyo Olympic Games in July/August 2020.
“Now it’s just about doing everything we can to get there.”