Some of the best memories I have in my life are from sporting trips. I guess that’s why I am always so keen for my kids to participate in team sports. Besides the obvious health benefits, it is just such a wonderful way to forge lifelong friendships and gain valuable life experiences. My parents did a stellar job fostering my love for attending such trips. We were always told as kids that if ever we were selected for a team, they would always find the funds to send us.
These days, with five kids in tow, I appreciate this sacrifice they made all the more. Trips are not particularly cheap, especially when you have more than one sport-obsessed child, but the dividends are worth it. On the weekend I was able to catch up with some girls from around the state I played with as a junior, who I haven’t seen in years – and thanks to our mutual love of hockey – we were able to pick up our friendship right where we left off, as though no time had passed at all.
The prospect of a trip away to play team sport is one that is STILL as exciting for me as when I was a child.
Perhaps all the more these days as the time away with other kid-free women is just such a valuable commodity. Women rarely allow themselves the luxury of time away from the family, unless it is for a particularly special purpose, so this annual trip is one that we all very much look forward to. For many women of our age category (35+) it is that rare chance to get away with friends for a girls’ weekend full of not only socialising, but game after game of our beloved sport. I know of younger women who are already eagerly anticipating turning that magic age of 35 just to qualify for the ‘Masters experience’.
The Queensland Women’s Masters Hockey State Championships was held on the weekend in Mackay. From the moment I arrived at gate 40B at Brisbane Airport and saw other hockey players like me, plus coaches and officials, I could feel my excitement rising. It truly is the key social and sporting event of the year for most mature aged, avid hockey playing women – one reason being because it is strictly a kid free zone. Kids are obviously allowed to come and watch but they are expected to be in the care of others. Thankfully the Lovely Lisa and her mum Judy volunteered to take care of our two littlest cherubs in Mackay while visiting family, so I could see them at the games but was free to frolic with my teammates too. Teams stay in accommodation together, with no kids allowed. This blanket rule might seem a bit harsh, but it avoids difficult, awkward conversations when one Mum just wants to ‘bend the rules’ a little.
For this reason, the atmosphere is literally one of fun and games.
The event itself was managed beautifully. Mackay Hockey Association could not have put on a better event. Even the rainy weather on the first day couldn’t dampen the mood. There were fire pits, live entertainment, food and coffee vans, and the most popular inclusion – a loaded bar fully stocked with a plethora of alcoholic beverages. While most people are old enough to understand their own body and its limits, the age-old saying about going off to hospital to give birth springs to mind here: ‘You leave your dignity at the door and pick it up on the way out’.
With Masters Hockey, you leave your ‘Mother’ persona at the airport and collect it again when you leave.
Our ‘dynamic’ Ipswich team had a directive from our self-appointed ‘Spirit Captain’ that team members were to get around the resort in animal onesies. So the second the first day’s games were over, we found ourselves sipping drinks clad in an array of Ugg boots and onesies in the resort BBQ area overlooking the beach. Yes we copped some odd looks, but mostly just giggles. A spot of tennis after a couple of beverages and some nibbles, and we knew that the 2019 Masters trip was in full swing.
Another key indicator was when I went to wash my hair in the shower and found the following:
Over the three days we played and played, both on and off the field. We may not have had the most successful results this year, coming 6Th in Division 2, but we had the most fantastic time bonding and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Creative costumes, flavoursome food, loads of laughs, and general craziness coupled with courtesy bus rides and sharing our winning Saturday night meat trays with the locals of Blacks Beach are some highlights that were Mackay Masters 2019.
So as I met my family at the airport and put my mother ‘Hat’ back on, although my body was tired, I felt like I had nurtured my soul with the other loves of my life that are so often neglected – hockey and time with great friends. I felt gloriously spent physically, and at the same time emotionally refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to join the ranks of the Mother club again.
Counting down to next year already.