Girls inspired by our hockey Olympians

AUSTRALIAN men's hockey team, the Kookaburras, will be hot favourites to take a medal in Beijing after scoring a 2-1 win over main rivals Germany in a practice match on Thursday.

However, the women's team, the Hockeyroos, are now considered only an outside chance to take a medal after slipping to fourth in the world rankings and finishing fifth in the pre-Games Champions Trophy competition.

Local hockey player Abby Vantaggiato will be watching the progress of both teams from her home in Lismore.

Abby said she has the TV guide with all the matches marked out pinned up in her bedroom with a chart, so she can fill in all the scores for each game.

“I wish I was there,” she said.

“I really like Matthew Wells on the men's team, and Brent Littlemore plays with my brother down in Grafton,” she said.

Twelve-year-old Abby plays with the Lismore club Northern Star, and has been selected in the squad of the state team. After a one-all draw with Coraki in the under-13s, she was off to watch the other grades.

Asked if she thought about playing for her country one day, she replied: “I wish I could.”

She said watching the Australian teams in the Olympics inspired her "to go a bit further".

Team-mate Tegan Elliott will also be watching the Aussie hockey teams in Beijing, though she wasn't quite as fanatical as Abby.

Tegan started playing hockey when she was four years old, after seeing her next door neighbour playing the game.

“It looked like so much fun,” she said.



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