Awesome effort from St Mary's Eleison
"THERE was only one word for the trip - awesome.''
St Mary's College student Layla Eleison was understandably elated about her opportunity to represent the Australian Schoolgirls team on the recent tour to Europe.
Being a self-confessed "poster girl'' for the College, Eleison was happy to recommend the trip to any other student given the chance.
"The hockey was incredible,'' the year 12 student said.
"The atmosphere at games was so much better over there.
"It (going on the tour) was one of the best decisions I've made.''
The Ipswich achiever played in four countries over three weeks, gaining valuable international experience from seven matches.
The Aussies had mixed results, winning trial games and losing to powerful Netherlands and German national under-16 sides.
"I've never seen anything like it,'' the midfielder said, savouring the intensity of high quality opponents.
"We learnt a lot from the losses as well as the wins.''
One of Eleison's highlights was scoring her first international goal at the end of the tour in Antwerp, against the under-18 Belgium development squad.
"It was a great experience, especially the goal I scored. I loved it,'' she said.
That capped a terrific learning tour, which Eleison enjoyed sharing with her friends and fellow students at St Mary's College.
A huge photo of her appears on buses around town, as a promotion for the college's sporting achievers.
"I'm now known as one of St Mary's poster girls,'' she said with a laugh, happy to be a sporting role model for the school.
"Everyone kept sending me photos of them with the bus.''
Out on the hockey field, she's gaining similar widespread exposure.
Eleison, who turns 17 in September, has been training with the Queensland under-21 side, having been named a shadow player for the national titles.
No sooner had she returned from Europe than she had to prepare to represent South West Queensland at the Super League championships in Brisbane.
"I was still very jetlagged when I started Super League but I handled that pretty well,'' she said.
True to her enthusiasm and talents, the rising Ipswich player worked hard in all her matches.
Eleison caught the eye of coaching staff, being invited to continue training with the state under-21 squad.
The Hancock Brothers A-grade player is also in one of the three Ipswich under-18 teams preparing for next month's state titles.
The boys are headed to Brisbane with the girls playing at the Gold Coast from July 5-7.
The Ipswich teams are playing a practice game against Toowoomba under-18 sides at Raceview on Monday night (6.30pm).