Green and golden oldies
PETER RYAN took up hockey only at the age of 31 - a time when many sportsmen decide to hang up their boots.
But now at 49, it is obvious that Ryan is a late bloomer.
The goalkeeper was outstanding for the NSW Over-45 Division 2 team in their title victory at the Australian veterans championships in Canberra.
He let in only four goals at the tournament and as a result was selected in the Australian Over-50 team for the International Masters Hockey World Cup in London next September.
Ryan still plays reserve grade for Coraki in the Far North Coast competition.
"I guess this year I've just worked a bit harder on my fitness," he said.
"As a goalkeeper you need to stay agile. There are a lotof good teenagers coming through the senior ranks who keep you on your toes."
Ryan admitted it was weird taking up hockey so late.
"Most people at Coraki have been playing since they were six," he said.
"But my wife's family always played and that's what made me start playing.
"Hearing the national anthem before you play gives you a lump in your throat."
Next year will be the third time Ryan has donned the green and gold.
He claimed a silver medal in the 2009 International Masters and last year helped Australia beat New Zealandin a Trans-Tasman series.
Fellow Coraki player David Brown was also selected to play for Australia for the first time in London after a strong showing in Canberra where his New South Wales team won the Over-40s title.
The striker or midfielder scored two goals.
Brown still plays first grade for Coraki at 41.
"I still do plenty of my own training every week; at least two or three sessions and lots of road runs in the off-season," he said.
"To make the Australian side was a big shock for me and a huge buzz."
Brown said the Coraki club was in great shape and that had been a major factor in keeping him in the sport.
"When I started at the club, first grade was strong with so many good young kids coming through and this is happening again right now," he said.
"I tell the young kids at Coraki not to say 'that's it' as soon as they make first grade.
"I tell them to keep learning as much as they can because, even at my age, I'm still learning all the time."