Ipswich hockey team turns up heat
IPSWICH men’s representative coach Nathan Hooper concedes his team faces a tough test gaining promotion to Premier League this season.
However, after last year’s disappointment in Brisbane, he’s backing his side to meet the challenge with pride and professionalism.
Ipswich was relegated from Premier League to this year’s Open championships in Brisbane after failing to fire at last year’s Premier League titles.
Hooper didn’t coach the men’s team that was relegated after losing 6-1 to Mackay in the playoff for seventh and eighth.
He guided the Ipswich women’s Premier League team in Townsville that finished sixth.
But Hooper knows his new assignment is important for Ipswich’s hockey reputation.
“It’s actually very rare that teams get dumped out of Premier League and go straight back up the following year so it’s a massive challenge,” the premiership-winning Easts club coach said.
“I think that’s why everyone has been training so hard.
“Last year with Premier League ladies was a massive challenge.
“We pulled through there without being relegated, which was good, but this is probably a bit different because you’re probably expected to go very well and the pressure is there to make the grand final and win it.”
Hooper has been working with a 19-strong squad since mid-January, focusing on fitness and basics for this year’s Open championships in Brisbane starting on April 29 – Hooper’s birthday.
The four-day championships are over the Labour Day long weekend and Hooper is keen for Ipswich to get behind his team.
“Everyone was bitterly disappointed with what happened last year and want to make amends for that,” he said.
“We’ve been doing massive amounts of fitness work and basic skill stuff.”
Hooper said having to cope with the recent heat was helping his side.
“The boys are handling it well,” he said.
“It’s good training some Sunday mornings just to replicate the heat that we might cop when we go away.
“Everyone is really putting in. I can’t ask for much more at the moment.”
Hooper said the Ipswich team would be finalised after the 2011 club competition starts on March 11.
“We’ll wait and see the start of the season and see if there’s any inclusions for people who might have found a bit of form or better attitudes,” Hooper said.