National player on way up in ADF team

FINE FORM: Easts hockey player Chris Fazel is hoping to play in another Ipswich A-grade grand final before heading to England.
FINE FORM: Easts hockey player Chris Fazel is hoping to play in another Ipswich A-grade grand final before heading to England. Fred Husted

IN his aviation role at Amberley, Chris Fazel has to travel interstate to bases like Katherine and Newcastle to refuel aircraft.

However, he enjoys playing hockey at every opportunity.

Apart from the team camaraderie and keeping fit, it offers him terrific opportunities like playing in finals and representing his country.

Fazel's next mission is playing for Easts in Sunday's Ipswich A-grade preliminary final, before hopefully backing up a week later in his second grand final for the Tigers.

Having shared in last year's dramatic extra-time loss to Norths, the right half is focused on helping Easts advance this weekend.

"Hopefully we can push through against Wests and have another crack,'' Fazel, 24, said.

"I think we can do that."

But even if minor premiers Easts are ambushed by the Magpies this weekend, Fazel has plenty of exciting hockey to look forward to.

He's off to the United Kingdom at the end of this month to represent the Australian Defence Force team in a series of matches.

The Aussie-English challenge is held every four years.

"It's a bit of an Ashes-style series against the Poms,'' he said. "We're playing their Royal navy, airforce and army sides, and then their royal combined services side.''

The Aussies will be located at a navy base in Portsmouth, an hour south of London.

The core of the national defence team had a hit-out at the recent Australian Country titles in Geraldton.

Fazel played for the ADF against Easts teammates Steve Bayliss and David Llewelyn, who represented Queensland Country.

Townsville born-and-bred Fazel joined Easts last season through friend Thom Millar, who also works in the Defence Force.

Although he's also played for Norths in the Brisbane competition, Fazel has found most A-grade enjoyment in recent seasons with the Tigers.

"It's just the speed," he said, when asked why he favours hockey.

"For me, it's the fact that everyone else is playing for the love of the sport and not the money.

"That's my pride and joy. That's my weekend hobby.''

Fazel said he was made welcome at Easts after joining the RAAF.

"They are all a good bunch of young fellas,'' he said. "It makes it that much easier. It makes you want to rock up on the weekend."

Fazel also appreciates the support from the Defence Force.

"They encourage all the extra-circular stuff," he said, hoping to remain in the Ipswich area for at least another three years.

"The majority of the time it works out.''



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