Late bloomers make the play for NZ tour
By ADAM HICKS
IT has taken 28 years of hard hockey hacking but Helen Jarvie's first selection in a national team has been worth the wait.
"I'm ecstatic," she said after winning selection in the Over-45 Australian women's hockey team.
"I certainly didn't expect it ... but I had dreamed about it.
"I'm certainly proud to be able to do it."
Jarvie, of Lennox Head, was one of three local women chosen in national veterans' teams to play in the Trans-Tasman Cup against well-cured Kiwis.
Jarvie's Glee club team-mate, Alison Parr, was named as a shadow player for the Over-45s while Ballina's Janet Gray, who has twice played in the Australian Over-45s, has matured into the Over-50s team.
Australia will send nine teams four women's and five men's to Hamilton, New Zealand, in May 2008 to contest a 27-match series. Each division plays three matches and the country that wins the most matches takes the trophy.
"It's a battle," Gray said.
"Like every sport we play against New Zealand, it's hard and 'crunchy'.
"When you go away and compete at this level, the fitness and work that the women put in and still play beautiful hockey, the young players are quite amazed by the standards."
The women were named in the teams at the conclusion of a national carnival at Sydney's Homebush hockey complex this month.
"The girls tell me the look on my face was priceless," Jarvie said about her reaction to being named. "I was a bit awestruck by it. I'm very excited now and have already started on a fitness program."
Jarvie put her late success down to a long maturing process.
"Call me a late bloomer, that sounds better than a slow learner," she said.
"It goes to show you never stop learning. I think I am still improving in skills ... I learn something new every year.
"The people at the top level, the really top level, aren't playing at this age so if you are fit it does stand out."
Jarvie and Parr were among eight women from the Far North Coast team selected to play for New South Wales at the national selection carnival.