Today was our planned rest day in Cairns. We booked a boat ride to Fitzroy Island to do some lying in the sunshine whilst sipping cool beers – however the Weather Gods decided that we weren’t going to get that. Setting off for the island at 8.00am in a grey overcast gloom wasn’t what we had in mind. In fact the locals said it was one of the coldest days they’d had on the island. However, not to be deterred we switched from our ‘inactive’ plan to ‘all action’
Firstly it was out in the glass bottomed boat where Sarah jumped overboard and spent an hour snorkelling the reef observing some amazing fish and coral. I was struck on board where I had the most fascinating talk to the boat’s captain, a real character.
After a quick change we grabbed some lunch then had a tour of the turtle rescue centre which was very interesting indeed.
After this we really went for it and climbed the mountain at the centre of the island. How steep was it I hear you ask – suffice it to say that it has two sections called Calf Burner 1 and Calf Burner 2. It was very tough but we made it up and back again. Then it was another walk to Nudey Beach – no, not that sort of Nude!
A quick trip back to the mainland in the dark to catch the end of the Cairns Ironman contest. To be honest we felt like we’d done that on the island.
Tomorrow we head off to Melbourne for the final part of our Walking Hockey Roll Out.
Today’s main event was our presentation to the Cairns Hockey Association. The association caters for over 1500 players across four clubs with lots of schools feeding into the system too. Our presentation was attended by David McNeil, Regional Coaching Director, Presidents from two of the clubs and representatives from the others. We were even filmed presenting Walking Hockey so that awareness can be spread as widely as possible.
The presentation was very warmly received and promoted some great discussions about the excellent opportunities it gives for greater hockey participation in the region across all age and social groupings.
Before our meeting today we explored the local environment and had a walk through the rainforest, saw some really interesting birds on the mudflats and enjoyed a taste of local ice creams!
This afternoon Matt picked us up and took us to Cairns Hockey Association, and what a set up it is. Two nice turfs, lots of grass pitches, hundreds of youngsters playing, and $4,000,000 investment set to be spent on a new high performance centre and super clubhouse. That’s the way to do it! We watched two games of girls hockey too and met David, the Regional Coaching Director for Cairns. We had some very useful discusssions about their philosophy and organisation. Tomorrow we return to present Walking Hockey to them.
Today we had a free morning so we took a trip up the coast for about 20 miles. Gorgeous beaches to be exploited had we the time!
This afternoon we went to the Sunshine Coast Hockey Association and spent some time watching some chaps play hockey. They were all seniors who played Masters. We had a chat with a lovely gentleman called Keith who told us about their group and then we told him about Walking Hockey and our trip. He asked for links to videos so I gave him our website address. I was invited to play but as Keith is an international Masters player I politely declined.
Keith, if you like what you see you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
This evening we saw the Facebook page of Steve Dickson MP, Australian Federal Government. It endorsed Walking Hockey!
We also took Nate out for a meal to thank him for arranging our stay and presentation on the Sunshine Coast. Everyone here is very excited about Walking Hockey and with Nate driving it I’m sure it’s going to be a huge success.
Today Sarah and I took time out to reflect on what has happened with Walking Hockey during this trip so far and what the immediate future holds. After a busy 10 days it is incredible to think what has happened so here’s a summary:
Dubai – met with a great response and will be launched soon for adults with juniors to use it too. Contacts established with players and administrators from South Africa, Northern Ireland, Ukraine, India, Belgium, the Netherlands and Scotland. Had a very warm (35 degrees) session of Walking Hockey thus becoming only the second country to try the programme.
Hockey New Zealand – very excited and will be putting adult programmes together and looking at integrating it into junior programmes too for basic skill work etc. Great opportunities for the sport.
Auckland Hockey Association – really keen and will be going for it too. Especially like the multicultural opportunities it presents. Set up contact with Head of FIH for us.
Sunshine Coast Hockey Association – really excited and have started to collect names of people for their first programme. Terrific opportunities for the large ageing community on Australia’s east coast. Meeting attended by the local MP and former Minister of Sport for Queensland. The first ever game of Walking Hockey in Australia was played by the High Performance under 18 men’s squad.
We still have three more groups to visit in Australia – Cairns HA, Hockey Australia and Footscray HC – before we head for home.
Today we also penned a letter to everyone we have met so far to ask for their assistance in taking the sport forward in a coordinated manner.
We also fitted in a trip into the mountains at the suggestion of our Sunshine Coast Hockey Association host Nate. Spectacular views and a nice lunch in a bistro too.
A beautiful sunny morning saw us take an early morning stroll along the beach before heading back to the apartment to plan the evening’s presentation.
After driving back to the Sunshine Coast Hockey Association’s (SCHA) lovely ground at Buderim we watched Nate coach two highly promising young lads followed by a match between U13 girls and U13 boys.
A quick ice cream later and it was presentation time. The audience included a MP who was formerly the Minister of Sport for Queensland, an 83 year old chap who was desperate to play again and several members of local hockey playing groups including the board of the SCHA. The presentation went very well and the audience and the SCHA were very excited indeed. SE Queensland has a very high older population and Walking Hockey is seen as an opportunity to let them get fitter in a fun way whilst making new friends. So impressed were they that they grabbed the U18 men’s practice and tried out Walking Hockey there and then, and guess what? They thought it was great fun too and want to use it as a future warm up routine!
The MP was extremely excited by Walking Hockey and wants to get it going ASAP!
So all in all another fine day in the history of Walking Hockey.
Today began very early (5am) so we could get to Auckland airport for our flight to Brisbane, Australia. Air New Zealand have a really funky design for their aircraft. The three and a half hour flight was really good with an excellent in flight media centre.
At Brisbane we picked up our car and headed north along Bruce Highway to Kawana Waters and the Beachsde Resort apartment that our friend Nate of the Sunshine Coast Hockey Association (SCHA) had kindly provided for us, its lovely.
After a quick unpack we headed off to Buderim, home of the SCHA, and caught the end of a local match on their water based AstroTurf. Got chatting to a couple of locals and they were really keen on our Walking Hockey sport.