Cost and effort is worth it for Mt Isa teams
MASTERS HOCKEY: When you talk western Queensland, everything is magnified.
The steaks are bigger, the utes are bigger, the characters are bigger and the effort and the passion the region's athletes put into making sure they don't miss out on opportunity is bigger as well.
The Mt Isa women's masters hockey team know all about effort.
By the time tomorrow afternoon rolls around and they head for home, players in the team would have travelled over 3500km and paid over $1200, all for four days of hockey.
Mt Isa women's masters coach Ralph Farlow said while the effort and the cost was extreme, it was all worth it.
"The women completely fund this trip themselves,” Farlow told The Gympie Times before his team's match against the Gold Coast yesterday.
"The quickest way out of Mt Isa is by plane and nine times out of 10 we have to fly, pick up a bus from Brisbane airport, and drive to wherever the tournament is.
"This time around we left a day early, landed in Brisbane, caught the shuttles to Noosa and picked up our 20-seater bus so we can drive to Gympie every day.
While there are many teams from around the state that put their all into qualifying for the championships, the Isa's sheer isolation provides a unique logistical challenge.
To put it into perspective, it is closer to fly to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea from the Isa than it is to fly to Logan.
Despite the distance, Farlow said the sport was alive and well in Queensland's mining hub.
Farlow said that despite the industry impacting heavily on players' availability, hockey in Mt Isa was on the up.
"We are definitely in a rebuilding phase,” he said.
"Ever since the mining industry went to 24-hour coverage, we lost a whole heap of people.
"We went from four A-grade men's and women's teams and four reserve grade men's and women's teams plus juniors, to having just four women's teams keeping the Mt Isa Hockey Association alive.
"We have built back up.
"We now have the men's competition back after it fell off the face of the moon and we have managed to raise six teams in the women's competition.
"But we have a fluctuating workforce, it has its cycles.”
This year, the westerners will compete in division 3 with a goal to move up the grades in the future.
Farlow thinks his town has the depth of talent to be a real force on the masters' scene, citing the motivation of his players as proof.
"We have always had people in town that are mad keen on hockey,” he said.
"We started off in fifth division as a Mt Isa side and we won that division.
"Third division is the highest we have played in.
"We take it deadly serious.
"The players are really committed.
"We are always looking at ways of getting new blood into the team to keep the whole thing going,” he said.
Mt Isa play Brisbane 4 today on field three at 9.45am.