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Journeys : April May 2010
We Australians admire our sporting heroes. We marvel at their skill, we idolise their successes and we fantasise about their lifestyles. But does the reality match up to the im age? Tasmanian Eddie Ockenden, 22 year old WorldHockey Young Player of the Year for 2008 and member of the WorldHockey Team of the Year in 2008 and 2009, is modest about his personal achievements as part of the Australian Kookabur ras. But others haven't held back in their assessment of his skills -- for example, sporting commentator Drew Morphett described Eddie's display at the 2008 Olympics as 'the most inspirational sporting perfor mance I witnessed in Beijing". High praise indeed -- but Eddie's lifestyle is probably far from what sports lovers might expect. Eddie had to leave his native Hobart at the age of 18 and re-locate to Perth when he was selected in the Australian men's national squad and was awarded an Australian Institute of Sport Scholarship. Time to learn to iron and cook for him self, as well as train, play hockey, do odd jobs to make ends meet, and then train again. Not exactly a glamorous lifestyle! He was selected to represent Australia in the Junior (U21) World Cup in Rotterdam in 2005. Following that performance Eddie quickly became a regular and pivotal member of the senior Kookaburras. His hockey has taken him to Malaysia, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, France, England, South Africa, New Zealand, the USA and of course to China for the Beijing Olympics. It sounds fabulous, but playing any sport at this level means there is virtually no time for sight-seeing -- instead, it's flying, training, resting, playing and then flying home. Then there is the income. Hockey is not in the same realm as professional sports such as soccer, golf, cricket or AFL football. Players receive a very modest income as part of the Australian team (with small bonuses if they perfor m well) but many of them also have contracts with Dutch clubs when Australian commitments allow. Eddie spends about a third of his year in Am sterdam, where he shares a flat with fellow Kookaburra Luke Doer ner. The Dutch League is the richest and best national competition in the world, and top players can earn a reasonable income to supplement their money from Australia. However you certainly don't see hockey players ear ning big dollars from sponsorship, as the elite do in many other sports. Playing hockey at this level mean s living out of a suitcase for much of the year and being away from friends and family almost all the time. As well, there's a limit to the number of years anyone can play at this level -- careers can be cut short by injury. But Eddie wouldn't have it any other way! He is rarely without a ball and stick Brendan Moore has followed Eddie Ockenden's career since the young international star was a junior player. Brendan is the president of Eddie's local club North West Graduates and his business has sponsored him for several years. Grant Treeby is an international photographer based in Melbourne. He travels extensively to shoot top-level sport around the world. www.treebyimages.com.au (or bat, racquet or club) in his hands, and when we watch his stunning speed, agility and skill on the hockey field we are tr uly inspired. In spite of the disappointment of a bronze medal in Beijing, Eddie still rates the whole Olympic experience as his most exciting -- he can't wait for London in 2012. He also was thrilled to be part of the Australian win in the Champions Trophy (played by the world's top six hockey nations) in Melbour ne late last year -- it was his first inter national tour nament on Australian soil. He loves Amsterdam, but he still comes back to play for Tassie in the Australian League and catch up with family and friends. And for 2010? Eddie played in Hobart in late January in a series against Korea, travelled to New Delhi in Febr uary/March for the World Cup and then it's back to New Delhi in October for the Commonwealth Games. For updates on Eddie's latest news, check out his website -- w w w.eddieockenden.com Elation after scoring against The Netherlands - Beijing Olympics 2008 In Tasmania today 43 April / May 10
Feb March 2010
RACT MNJ June July 2010