KEEN TO PLAY: Three-year-old twins Madelaine (left) and Annaliese Bow-Lynch put their hands up to play for Norths during Sunday’s Ipswich Hockey Open Day at Raceview.
KEEN TO PLAY: Three-year-old twins Madelaine (left) and Annaliese Bow-Lynch put their hands up to play for Norths during Sunday’s Ipswich Hockey Open Day at Raceview. Kate Czerny

Hockey season set to light up

NEW lights, an ongoing focus on junior development and the return of some seasoned campaigners.

The 2015 Ipswich hockey season is fast approaching at the association's upgraded complex at Raceview.

A $285,000 computer-controlled lighting system was installed on both synthetic fields over the off-season after a federal government commitment of $250,000 was honoured last year.

The space-age lights were switched on publicly for the first time at Sunday's annual open day. That signalled what association president Margret Mantell hopes is the first of more improvements.

Starting her fourth season in the chief role, Mantell hopes other work around Ipswich's hockey headquarters will help grow the sport.

"One of our focuses is, now that the lighting is up and running and we know what expenses we've got there, is to try and do some development of the complex,'' Mantell said. "To improve accessibility around the complex.''

Sunday's open day gave new players, especially youngsters, a chance to try hockey in a fun environment. Look out for more photos in tomorrow's Junior Sport section.

Ipswich Hockey's Hookin2 Hockey initiative has been successful in recent years, promoting junior development in a fun environment.

This year's program starts on March 14.

Mantell expects club officials to finalise their junior and senior teams in coming weeks leading up to the season launch on March 13.

Among newly-appointed A-grade coaches are former international player Jake Burns (Hancocks men), experienced campaigner Kel Iszlaub (Wests men) and loyal Norths former manager and Reserve grade premiership winner Steven Profke (Devils men).

Last year's victorious Reserve grade grand final-winning captain Tony Ross is guiding the Norths women.

International umpire Steve Rogers is returning to coach the Wests women.

Loyal Ipswich mentor Brendan Eleison will again guide 2014 women's grand finalists Hancocks.

Well-travelled Darren Manson is also back to coach the Easts A-grade men.

Other clubs are finalising their appointments.

Ipswich is hosting two major championships this year - a masters men's state tournament in May and a primary school state event in June.

Details about the annual Combined Competition between Ipswich and Toowoomba are to be confirmed.

As the focus turns to launching a new season, long-serving official Janette Howells also received a life membership at the recent Ipswich Hockey AGM.

Howells has given the association valued service since 1975, performing a number of important roles. She became Ipswich Hockey's senior vice president last year.

Handy information

The 2015 Ipswich hockey season starts on March 13.

The popular Hookin2Hockey junior program resumes on March 14, with a special Princesses and Pirates theme day in July and a fun presentation carnival in August.

Ipswich is hosting the state men's masters over 40/50 championships from May 8-10. The city is also host venue for the QSS Primary School state championships (June 19-21).

Limited or no fixtures are scheduled for the masters tournament at Raceview, over Easter (April 3-6) and the Queen's Birthday long weekend in June.

Junior grand final day is September 5. The senior grand finals are set down for September 11 and 12.

Ipswich Hockey's Gala Awards function is planned for September 4.

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